Aside from Carlos Correa — who reportedly remains focused on finalizing his deal with the Mets — only three players from MLBTR’s top 50 free agents remain without a contract. There’s just one hitter from the group, as the market for Jurickson Profar has remained surprisingly quiet.
The nine-year MLB veteran had a solid 2022 campaign with the Padres, hitting .243/.331/.391 with 15 home runs through 658 plate appearances. It was his second above-average offensive season in the last three years, leading the 29-year-old to make the easy decision to accept a $1MM buyout and hit free agency instead of returning to San Diego on a $7.5MM salary.
In the nearly two months since then, however, there’s been virtually zero indication as to his next landing spot. The only team that has been substantively tied to Profar this winter is the Astros, and that was before they re-signed Michael Brantley to split time with Yordan Alvarez between left field and designated hitter.
That leaves only speculative possibilities in trying to narrow down Profar’s landing spot. With Profar mostly limited to left field in recent years after breaking into the majors as an infielder, it’s worth looking at the clubs that got the worst production out of the position. Here are the bottom ten teams in wRC+ from left fielders in 2022:
- Rangers (47)
- Angels (67)
- Marlins (81)
- Tigers (88)
- Red Sox (91)
- A’s (94)
- Reds (95)
- Pirates (97)
- Braves (97)
- Twins (98)
A few of these clubs have already addressed the issue. The Halos traded for Hunter Renfroe, while the Red Sox signed Masataka Yoshida to a five-year contract. The Twins signed Joey Gallo and look likelier to trade away an outfielder than sign another.
Some others are either amidst rebuilds or at least heading into transitional seasons. The A’s, Tigers, Reds and Pirates are all unlikely to contend for a playoff spot in 2023. That doesn’t inherently rule them out on Profar, who’s still fairly young and could sign a multi-year deal. Yet it perhaps lessens the urgency for anyone in that group to try to plug every hole on the roster via free agency. Let’s take a look at the remaining three clubs in that group:
- Rangers: Texas has had a second straight whirlwind offseason, this time on the pitching staff. They’ve added four starting pitchers as part of their efforts to vault themselves into postseason contention. Left field is the biggest remaining weakness, and Rangers general manager Chris Young has already gone on record about a desire to upgrade. Bubba Thompson and infield/outfield hybrids Brad Miller, Josh Smith and Ezequiel Durán headline the internal options. An addition seems likely, although it remains to be seen if Texas would circle back to Profar, who never met the extremely lofty expectations he’d had as a prospect in the Rangers farm system.
- Marlins: The Marlins haven’t addressed the outfield this winter, but they added Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler on multi-year pacts last offseason. They could make Profar fit if they moved Soler to a more or less everyday designated hitter role, but another free agent deal for a corner outfielder might be too rich for their taste. That’s particularly true since most of their in-house younger outfielders (i.e. Jesús Sánchez, Bryan De La Cruz, JJ Bleday) profile better in a corner than they do in center field.
- Braves: Atlanta has thrown a few darts at left field this offseason. They’ve acquired Sam Hilliard and Eli White in minor trades while signing Jordan Luplow to a modest one-year deal. None of them should stand in the way of an impact left fielder, but Profar’s more of a solid stabilizing veteran than the kind of player who’d change a lineup. Between the trio of new pickups and in-house candidates like Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario, Atlanta may feel they’ll find at least one player in the group who can reasonably approximate Profar’s production.
Beyond that trio of teams, a few more stand out as possible fits. The Mariners have looked for ways to address left field. As with Atlanta, they have a hodgepodge of internal candidates for reps (Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, Sam Haggerty and Dylan Moore among them) and could feel better patching things together if they don’t land a clearer upgrade via trade. Seattle also has some questions about their remaining spending capacity. The Yankees haven’t attacked left field after losing Andrew Benintendi in free agency. Oswaldo Cabrera and Aaron Hicks are the in-house favorites for playing time.
The Royals have almost no certainty in either corner outfield spot. The Nationals are rebuilding but the Talk Nats blog tweeted a few weeks ago they were looking to bring in some outfield help. The incumbent Padres still make some sense. San Diego president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has made no secret of his longstanding affinity for Profar dating back to their overlapping time in the Texas organization. Fernando Tatis Jr. is likely ticketed for left field work once he returns from his performance-enhancing drug suspension, but adding another bat to the corner outfield/designated hitter mix could free Matt Carpenter up for more multi-positional work off the bench.
What does the MLBTR readership consider the best fits for Profar? Where will he wind up?
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