8:36 pm: The Padres have agreed with Profar on a $5.7MM salary to avoid arbitration, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
1:52 pm: The Padres and Athletics have agreed to a trade that’ll send infielder Jurickson Profar from Oakland to San Diego in exchange for catcher Austin Allen and a player to be named later. Profar, who’d been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.8MM through arbitration, was a non-tender candidate in Oakland but is now in line to play a significant role with the Padres in 2020. The move reunites him with Padres GM A.J. Preller, who played an integral part in signing Profar as an amateur during his time with the Rangers organization. Meanwhile, the A’s pick up a potential backup catcher who can step immediately onto the roster.
San Diego’s trade of Luis Urias last week left a hole at second base, where Ian Kinsler, Greg Garcia and Ty France all seemed likely to vie for playing time this spring. Now, Profar will presumably step to the top of the depth chart, rounding out an infield that also features Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer.
For the Athletics, they’ll now have their own infield vacancy, though that was arguably the case for some of the 2019 season due to Profar’s struggles. The former No. 1 overall prospect has proven himself healthy after a pair of shoulder surgeries wiped out two full seasons of his developmental years, but he’s yet to break out as a clear-cut big leaguer.
Profar hit .254/.335/.458 with the Rangers in 2018 but saw those numbers slip to .218/.301/.410 with the A’s in 2019. Of greater concern were Profar’s suddenly glaring defensive woes, as he developed a mild case of the yips early in the season that led to 11 throwing errors (and an ugly -10 Defensive Runs Saved mark). With Profar now in San Diego, the A’s can turn to one of Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo or Sheldon Neuse at second base. Alternatively, they can explore a saturated market of second base options — both in free agency and in trade — and hope to land a quality veteran a discount rate.
Allen, 25, was San Diego’s fourth-round pick back in 2015 and made his MLB debut with the Padres in 2019, hitting .215/.282/.277 in a tiny sample of 71 plate appearances. He feasted on the juiced ball in Triple-A El Paso, though, hitting .330/.379/.663 with 21 homers and 27 doubles in just 298 plate appearances. Evaluating players in what was already an extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League became even tougher with the league’s adoption of the MLB ball, but Allen has regularly been an above-average hitter throughout his time in the minors.
Allen is the definition of a bat-first catching option, as scouting reports on him dating back to college have questioned his ability to catch at a passable level. He’s thrown out just 22 percent of attempted base thieves in the minors, and the word was out on him in the Majors, as he went 1-for-9 in halting runners in just 19 games (14 starts, 128 innings). To his credit, Allen has posted quality framing numbers in each of the past two seasons, but whether he’ll be able to do over a larger sample remains to be seen. Allen has also gotten some work in at first base — perhaps a portent for things to come.
The A’s have been on the lookout for a left-handed-hitting bat to pair with top catching prospect Sean Murphy, who hits from the right side of the dish, and it seems they might’ve found their man in Allen. This acquisition only furthers the likelihood that right-handed-hitting Josh Phegley, himself a non-tender candidate, has played in his final game with the A’s.