Outfielder Jurickson Profar and right-hander Robert Suarez exercised the opt-out clauses in their contracts with the Padres, according to the MLB Players Association (Twitter link). The two players have now officially become free agents. Both players will take a $1MM buyout, with Profar opting for free agency over a $7.5MM salary for 2023, and Suarez leaving a $5MM salary for 2023 on the table. In addition, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that the Padres have declined their $20MM club option on Wil Myers’ services for the 2023 season, and Myers will also get a $1MM buyout.
After a solid performance in his first season in San Diego, Profar inked a three-year, $21MM deal (with a $10MM mutual option for 2024) to return to the Padres during the 2020-21 offseason. Given Profar’s lack of a consistent track record during his MLB career, the size of the contract was a surprise at the time, and any concerns immediately seemed justified when Profar struggled in 2021. However, Profar was a 2.5 fWAR player in 2022, hitting .243/.331/.391 with 15 homers and a 110 wRC+ while playing some respectable defense as the Padres’ everyday left fielder.
Profar’s three-year deal contained opt-outs after both 2021 and 2022, and Profar naturally didn’t exercise his opt-out after the 2021 season’s disappointment. In hitting the open market now, Profar’s three-year deal will end up earning him $13.5MM in total salary, signing bonuses, and his buyout.
Once regarded as the top prospect in baseball, Profar is entering his age-30 season and is now looking more like a solid regular, rather than the superstar status initially predicted for him almost a decade ago. It’ll be interesting to see what his next contract looks like, though his opt-out is a logical move since he’ll surely top the $7.5MM figure. Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has long had an affinity for Profar dating back those top-prospect days (when Preller worked in the Rangers’ front office), and another new deal with San Diego certainly doesn’t seem out the question.
On the flip side, last summer’s Juan Soto trade dramatically overhauled the Padres’ outfield picture, and Preller might choose to continue the remodel with Profar and Myers both hitting the open market. There wasn’t any doubt Myers’ option would be declined, as the Padres have been trying to trade Myers for the last few years in order to get his contract off the books and ease up their luxury tax burden. Since a trade partner couldn’t be found for Myers and the Padres had to eat virtually all of Eric Hosmer’s remaining salary in dealing him to the Red Sox at the trade deadline, San Diego ended up surpassing the tax threshold for the second consecutive season.
Myers inked a six-year, $83MM extension with the Friars in January 2017, and though San Diego obviously expected more from its investment, Myers still provided above-average (109 wRC+) over the life of the contract. He hit .252/.327/.451 with 98 home runs over 2486 PA during the last six seasons, with injuries limiting his playing time in both 2018 and 2022. In what might be Myers’ final season with the Padres, he missed close to two months recovering from knee inflammation, and played in only 77 games — Myers still had a respectable 104 wRC+ from a .261/.315/.398 slash line.
After spending his first six professional seasons in the Mexican League and in Nippon Professional Baseball, Suarez came to MLB in 2022, signing an $11MM deal that broke down as a $1MM signing bonus, $5MM in 2022, and a $5MM player option for 2023. Though knee inflammation sent Suarez to the 60-day injured list, his rookie season was still quite a success, with a 2.27 ERA and a 31.9% strikeout rate over his first 47 2/3 innings in the majors. He carried that success forward with a 3.00 ERA in nine innings during San Diego’s postseason run, though Suarez ended on the sour note of allowing Bryce Harper’s decisive two-run homer as the Padres were eliminated by the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Suarez (who turns 32 in March) stands to build on that rookie year with a multi-year contract in his return to free agency. He is another player the Padres will surely have interest in re-signing, but Suarez will draw plenty of suitors due to the vast number of teams eager to add velocity and strikeouts to their bullpens.