Padres utilityman Jurickson Profar won’t opt out of his contract with the team, instead choosing to exercise his $6.5MM player option for the 2022 season, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).
Profar’s free agent deal with the Padres last winter contains three guaranteed years, though Profar had opt-out clauses after both this season and the 2022 season. Opting out would have allowed Profar to pocket a $1MM buyout and then test the open market, though he will now receive a $6.5MM salary from the Padres in 2022, plus $1.5MM in remaining signing bonus money. Profar is set to earn $7.5MM in 2023 if he doesn’t opt out of that year, with another $1MM buyout attached. The two sides also have a $10MM mutual option on Profar’s services for the 2024 season ($1MM buyout).
There wasn’t much suspense behind Profar’s decision, as leaving $15.5MM on the table wouldn’t have been advisable considering Profar’s lackluster 2021 numbers. Profar hit .227/.329/.320 with four home runs over 412 plate appearances, and was a sub-replacement level player in the eyes of Fangraphs’ WAR metric (-0.7). While Profar had strong walk and strikeout rates, he simply didn’t make much hard contact, finishing in only the seventh percentile in hard-hit ball rate and barrel rate. Profar was further hampered by a pair of stints on the COVID-related injury list, which cost him around three weeks of action.
It seemed as if Profar was turning on the corner after a solid 2020 season, yet his struggles this year only added to his history of inconsistency at the big league level. Once considered the game’s top prospect during his time in the Rangers farm system, Profar hasn’t been able to put everything together, and his progress hasn’t been helped by a number of injuries along the way. After playing in parts of eight MLB seasons, Profar has only 4.6 fWAR and a .236/.320/.384 slash line to show for 2444 plate appearances.
This track record notwithstanding, Profar’s good 2020 season and his top-prospect reputation garnered him quite a bit of interest on the open market last year, and the Padres were willing to go to three years to retain him. That investment doesn’t look great one season into the deal, as while Profar was intended for something of a super-utility role in the first place, he doesn’t have a clear path to regular at-bats on next year’s Padres roster. There is still hope for a late breakout at age-29, and while Profar’s salary isn’t exorbitant by itself, San Diego is already pushing the luxury tax threshold even before making any offseason roster adds.