Essentially from the moment MLB Trade Rumors published our annual top 50 free agents list, players immediately started flying off the board. While the last few non-lockout offseasons saw a slowed free agent market, many of the biggest names of the 2022-23 class had already found new teams by the start of January…give or take Carlos Correa’s three-team saga, of course. Now that Andrew Chafin has agreed to a deal with the Diamondbacks, only two players from that top-50 listing remain unsigned as Spring Training dawns: Jurickson Profar (ranked 33rd) and Michael Wacha (41st).
Profar voluntarily chose to test the open market, as he exercised an opt-out clause in his contract with the Padres. Entering the third and final year of that deal, Profar took a $1MM buyout rather than the $7.5MM owed to him in 2023, thus making a $6.5MM bet that he could find a longer-term and more lucrative deal in free agency. MLBTR agreed, projecting Profar for a two-year, $20MM deal.
Such a contract has yet to emerge for Profar, despite plenty of interest. The Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Marlins, Rangers, and Orioles have all been linked to Profar at various points this offseason, though Houston and Boston have seemingly already addressed needs in left field. The other reported suitors have somewhat clearer needs in left field, even if in-house options abound for all four teams. Other factors may also be at play for particular teams — for example, the Yankees are very close to surpassing the top luxury tax threshold ($293MM), and reportedly don’t want to hit that highest penalty line.
As Profar approaches his 30th birthday, it doesn’t look like he’ll ever live up to his former top-prospect status, yet he provided solid numbers in three of the last five seasons. Of course, that isn’t the most consistent track record, and Profar’s .241/.326/.403 slash line over 2384 plate appearances since the start of the 2018 season works out to a barely above-average 101 wRC+. While Profar had 110 wRC+ in 2022 and his 2.5 fWAR was the best of his career, this recent performance might not be enough to overcome a perception that is only a “good” player, and teams may not be willing to give a multi-year deal for just “good” (and somewhat unpredictable) performance going forward.
It can be assumed that Profar is at least looking to top that $6.5MM salary he left on the table in San Diego, but his current contract demands are unknown. It could be that Profar is open to a one-year contract — or one guaranteed year with an option for 2024 — at an average annual value slightly higher than $6.5MM, so he can at least recoup that money and then test the market again next winter. Profar is represented by the Boras Corporation, and Scott Boras is well-known both for waiting until deep into an offseason to find an acceptable deal for his clients, and for coming up with creative contracts that include flexibility for both the player and the team.
There is a bit more information about Wacha’s demands, since as of two weeks ago, the right-hander and his reps at CAA Sports were reportedly looking for a two-year contract in the range of $30MM. This is well above the two-year, $16MM deal that MLBTR projected for Wacha’s next deal, though prices for starting pitchers have mostly skyrocketed this winter.
The Orioles, Twins, and Angels have all reportedly had interest in Wacha this offseason, though Minnesota’s trade for Pablo Lopez might have sealed up the last spot in the rotation. For Baltimore, Wacha has been on the Orioles’ radar both before and after their signing of Kyle Gibson, a similar veteran arm meant to provide innings and experience within the young O’s rotation. The Angels were the most recent of the three clubs to check in (in early February), and while Los Angeles has already signed Tyler Anderson to bolster the starter ranks, the Angels need a particular amount of depth given their likely deployment of a six-man rotation.
As with Profar, Wacha might fit into that “good but not great” category due to a lack of consistency. After posting shaky results from 2019-21, Wacha seemingly got back on track by posting a 3.32 ERA over 127 1/3 innings with the Red Sox in 2022. The righty did a good job of limiting hard contact and he continued his recent trend of limiting walks, but the rest of his Statcast sheet wasn’t overly impressive, including a 20.2% strikeout rate that was well below league average. Wacha also spent about seven weeks on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, which is of particular concern given his past history of shoulder injuries.
Despite these drawbacks, Wacha’s market is boosted by the simple cliche of “you can never have enough pitching.” Teams with seemingly full rotations might prefer to sign Wacha and push a younger arm further down the depth chart, or it is quite possible a new club might emerge as a suitor should a pitching injury arise during Spring Training. That same logic also extends to Profar, as a team’s outfield plans might suddenly be altered if a lineup regular gets hurt.
Which of these free agents do you think will be the next to sign?
(poll link for app users)
An earlier article was gushing over Jason Adam’s statcast numbers, making it a point to say which aspects were elite. Why gloss over Wacha’s statcast numbers because they are poor? In the name of objectivity they could/should be listed as a counterpoint to his surface stats.
Basically, I just mean saying they “aren’t overly impressive” is far to generous.
That’s because MLBTR writers are more concerned with impressing players than they are owners. They aren’t going to get any owner to do a chat so they tend to make the players look good. Aside from that, most the writers always side with the players on the CBA’s no matter what. If a player is bad they typically point out their good stats during their free agency. If a high spending owner doesn’t want to pay a luxury tax penalty they point out “The penalty is almost nothing.” You will never catch them pointing out that an owner should save money. Even when the Rockies spend stupid money they call it “refreshing.” When a player is terrible and then has a good stretch but finishes the season terrible they will only focus on the good stretch for the same reason. “More money to the players. Less money to the owners.” seems to be their motto. Performance is irrelevant. Even when owners lose money in vain the MLBTR writers commend them for it. That tells you all you need to know. Anyone who calls what the Rockies are doing “refreshing” is extremely biased. There’s nothing refreshing about paying money to lose. Plenty stupid about it but nothing refreshing.
Kapler's Coconut Oil
Are you okay?
I was just trying to respond to him. He makes a good point. When a player is great they break down paragraphs of stats for even a short period of time to point out how great he was during that stretch. When a free agent is terrible for a stretch, like he said, they just say they “aren’t overly impressive.” When a player is asking for more money than they are obviously worth it’s glossed over. When an owner is paying more than he should on bad players they make it sound like a good thing. When an owner is top 5 in spending and doesn’t spend more they point out exactly how little more it would cost to break the tax. When a player is asking for too much they never go that in depth to throw it in the players face like they do the owners. It doesn’t bother me who makes the money. I just root for parity. The Rockies blowing their payroll on subpar players when they can’t contend anyway is bad for parity. Wacha making $30 million of some teams payroll would be bad for parity too because everyone knows he can’t back that up. I agree with cheap owners getting flack for not spending but underwhelming players should get just as much flack for asking for too much money. Equal opportunity offenders are much more interesting than people who always follow a narrative.
Idk I feel like it’s also not the job of trade rumors to just roast the players for being bad. The point is “here is why other teams may be interested in this player…this is why this player has value…etc.” Secondly even the worse professionals in the sport are better than like 99% of the world so it’s not exactly a great look to be hyper critical of that performance when it happens at such a high caliber of play
I could see that. They should pick or choose if they are going to roast at all though. Not just pick and choose groups that they will or won’t roast. If they aren’t going to roast bad players then they shouldn’t roast “bad” owners. But they do. They even roast good owners. The Yankees get flack all the time for not spending more. The Yankees. One of the highest payroll teams in baseball history get flack for not spending more. The Rockies spend terribly but instead of getting criticized they are called “refreshing for not rebuilding” even though they are only hurting their team. When Strasburg committed highway robbery with that terrible contract he got “kudos” and “well deserved.” I’m okay with criticizing or not criticizing but it should go both ways. Not just one way. I personally enjoy the criticism. I think the A’s, Pirates, Reds. etc. owners all deserve criticism but there are plenty of players and agents who fit that bill too. Equal opportunity is always the best way to go IMO. It doesn’t really bother as much as these posts might seem. I was just trying to respond to @BeansforJesus so he knows other people understand where he’s coming from.
Thanks for the response Steve. I’m not calling for a “roast” here. I don’t think pointing out poor (and using that phrase is perfectly fine to me and not roasting) underlying stats in more detail to create a solid profile is dragging a player. The players probably hear much worse in arbitration meetings.
@steve Nebraska. Nobody, reads posts that long in today’s World. You should consider 2-3 lines maximum
I read his responses and appreciated them. And as he stated earlier, he was responding to my comment. So, I think he reached his objective.
A better question is who cares who signs first? Obviously a slow time for baseball news.
Blue – only the 584 people that voted. So far.
Wow, 584 people. Not even close to a thousand or any statistically significant sample size. A number that says, “Who cares? We’re watching the Super Bowl.”
well if your so into the superbowl why are you on here? im going to be ohnest im not watching the superbowl because my team didnt make it.im on here because im interested,in baseball.if your not interested then beet feet.
Statistically significant sample size? Dude, it’s a poll not a statistical analysis proving one is right. Just an opinion poll.
You a nerd.
And its over 1600 now.
You even more nerd than before
@slimray: Some of us have the brainpower to multitask and be interested in more than one thing. You obviously don’t.
And seriously, beet feet? You would be better off keeping your piehole shut so we only think you might be a simple-minded fool than opening it, spewing your stupidity, and removing any doubt. Too late for you now.
As opposed to 35 million or more around the world watching football? Keep thinking small and counting your beans for your dead hero Jesus.
Fun fact! The central limit theorem states that a sample size of 30 is sufficiently large enough to estimate the true population parameter. So yes, 584 is a statically significant sample to estimate the opinions of MLBTR readers
Your argument is invalid and you still a nerd.
I mean really you are dumb. This article is not meant to compete with the goshdang superbowl.
Congrats you dunked on a baseball article posted during the Super Bowl, when the world still functions regardless of a football game or not.
You sound like a terrible person to spend time with
Over/Under on the last time he went on a second date? Who cares?
The word everyone in this conversation is missing is . . . random. It’s the process of random sampling from a population that lets us make good population estimates. Numbers such as 30 or 400 or 1600 matter for the precision of that estimate. But 500 self-selected MLB Trade Rumors readers is not a random sample and only tells us what those 500 people think. Now, that may or may not be valuable information; I think it certainly answers the first person who asked the “who cares” question but it is not in any way a random sample generalizable to the population of MLBTR readers.
Blue… You lose points for name calling.. and for plagiarizing Lincoln.
“WHO CARES??” – Sincerely BlueBaron
@ Blue Baron – I also don’t care who signs first, but I am very interested in knowing what team signs these guys. It’s why we read MLBTR. I also didn’t watch the Super Bowl, as my team wasn’t in it. I’m thrilled to read anything even moderately interesting about MLB at this time of year.
This is illegal. You can only go “wow” when you’re the first comment.
Ha.Yeah I screwed up. Maybe I should just keep my thoughts to myself. But I was truly amazed at the two players chosen for the poll. Instinctively, I was WOWed.
I don’t believe anything in either comment above is truthful
Need people for fantasy baseball auction league. Kidd blue baron interested???
Gimme some info about it. I may be interested. No promises
Not sure what “it doesn’t like he’ll never live up to” means.
Outinleftfield, auction league interest in fantasy baseball still looking to fill 7 spots?
Easy. I got this. Jurickson Wacha.
“WHO CARES??” – Sincerely BlueBaron
Profar is my guess. But with respect, Profar isn’t really even a “good player” he’s a slightly above replacement level utility guy, at best. He should have taken the money and stayed in SD, he’s gonna get like 1/5 and may not be on nearly as good a team as the Padres. Wacha pitched over his head last year and the underlying stats reflect that. Teams are rightfully skeptical and don’t want to give him the 3 year deal he seems to want. He will probably get like 1/12 or 2/24 and even that feels like a landmine contract.
Profar is a solid utility player. I agree, he is overselling his skills. Obviously, teams don’t want to commit to a utility player
Profar is a Boras client.
Wacha. Teams always need pitching. They don’t always need overrated hitters.
Wacha is pretty overrated too
Both of them will get like 1/8
deGrom Texas Ranger
Will isn’t the same as should. See Bellinger, Walker, and Jon Gray last year. Some fool gave a qualifying offer to Martin Perez after a failed career with 1 other above average season in addition to 2022. Also, look at Kershaw deciding to work for free with LA the last 2 years on 1 year deals.
Heres why I think Profar: As a Boras client looking now likely for a 1 year deal there is pressure to getting him a normal spring training for the top agent in baseball while Wacha is seemingly more ok with 2 years with less of a focus on needing a full ST.
Stan Not the Man
Both are stuck under the weight of their own demands. Profar is almost definitely going to sign for less than the option he declined and may have to wait for an injury to do so. Same for Wacha, a 2 year $30 million dollar deal is probably not happening unless a team gets into desperation mode during training camp
More teams need corner OF help than an overpriced SP IMO. My guess would be Profar signs first.
This one belongs to the Reds
Both way overestimated their market and now scrambling for ANY job after the big boys spent all their money.
Would rather be here than watching tackle ball, so I care.
I picked Wacha, teams will prioritize pitching over hitting. Profar should have settled for the team option he had with San Diego.
deGrom Texas Ranger
The guy with a more realistic ask and a 3.32 ERA/127 ERA+ over the failed consensus #1 prospect who seems to think stuff from a decade ago still matters
I don’t feel that 2/$30M is a realistic ask by Wacha. In fact, that’s probably reason #1 why he hasn’t signed yet. Wacha is an $8M pitcher at best. Perhaps some team gets desperate and offers him $10M but that should be his absolute ceiling.
deGrom Texas Ranger
Thus, the more realistic ask comment (relative to Pro go far away’s ask)
Both players who had (imo) good unsustainable years. Wacha got lucky and doesn’t strike out a lot..profar doesn’t bring much to the table as well in multiple categories. They wanted multi years deals and I think that it hurtled their actual value. I believe they will settle for a 1year 10M or somethin
Wacha. He’s cheaper and more teams have rotations spots than they do LF positions.
Wacha should definitely wait into spring training. Several teams will lose starting pitchers to long term injuries during spring training.
Yep. That’s my thinking too. A team with playoff aspirations loses a SP or OF, someone is going to get a call.
Waddaya want? Wacha?
Normally I’d vote for the pitcher in this case because those are harder to find during the season and teams generally like to lock them up earlier than later. You can always find an outfield bat at almost any point during the season. That said, MW has been nothing but a roller coaster the last 4 years and him asking for quite a spike from projection does seem a bit unrealistic in this case. So I’m gonna guess JP signs first simply because of financials more than the norm
White Sox could use both. Obvious 2b hole to fill with Profar. And Clevinger a good bet now to not pitch or get any part of his 1yr/$15m due to suspension eventually.
Wacha could lower expectations and take a 1yr/$12-15m instead of holding out for multi years.
Profar trained with Fernando Ringworm Sr. last winter. Could PED concerns be lingering?
Asking for Barry Bonds…
I’ll bet Wacha signs first. Just a hunch.
Where is the love for Jurickson Profar? Unfortunately, not in MLB. I wonder if he’s considering Japan?