The Rockies have released outfielder Jurickson Profar, The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders reports (X link). Profar’s spot on the roster will be taken by prospect Hunter Goodman, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A. Goodman’s impending big league promotion was first reported yesterday by the Blake Street Banter X feed.
Profar’s tenure in the Mile High City ends after 111 games, 472 plate appearances, and a disappointing .236/.316/.364 slash line. Only three qualified hitters have a lower wRC+ in 2023 than Profar’s 72 wRC+, and his -1.9 fWAR is the lowest of any qualified hitter in baseball. It wasn’t at all what Profar or the Rockies were hoping when they agreed to a one-year, $7.75MM free agent deal back in March, and Colorado has now chosen to part ways with Profar entirely in order to open up more time for younger players.
Today’s news will again put a spotlight on Profar’s decision to enter the free agent market last winter, as he opted out of the final year of his previous contract with the Padres in search of a longer-term and more lucrative pact. However, the market didn’t deliver such a deal, and Profar ended up having to wait until the middle of March to sign with Colorado. Between his Rockies salary and the $1MM buyout he received from opting out, Profar ended up making a bit more money than if he’d just remained in his Padres contract for a $7.5MM salary for the 2023 season, yet it is hard to view the situation as a win given Profar’s season-long struggles.
The long wait in free agency likely contributed to those struggles, as Profar didn’t really have much of a Spring Training, though he did get some high-level competition while playing for the Netherlands during the World Baseball Classic. Rockies manager Bud Black also recently said that Profar had been “been battling that [left] knee for a little,” so it possible this nagging injury might have been a factor in Profar’s lack of production.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Profar’s 2023 fortunes might have been different if he’d stayed in San Diego, had a full spring, or stayed healthy. Given the up-and-down nature of Profar’s career, his dropoff this season can’t be viewed as a total surprise, as Profar’s last six seasons have alternated positive wRC+ numbers to below-average offensive production. His solid work with the Padres in the shortened 2020 season led to his re-signing with the club on a three-year, $21MM free agent deal that winter, though Profar again didn’t hit well in 2021, which led him to decline his first opt-out opportunity in the 2021-22 offeason. He then bounced back to hit .243/.331/.391 over 658 PA in 2022, translating to an 111 wRC+ and 2.6 fWAR, and giving Profar the confidence to test the open market again.
With this in mind, Profar might well rebound for another good year in 2024, though it is possible he might be able to catch on with another club before this season is out. Despite his rough numbers this year, his track record of success as recently as 2022 and his past status as an elite prospect might still catch the attention of a club in need of outfield depth. Signing Profar would cost a team only a prorated minimum salary, as the Rockies are on the hook for the remainder of the $7.75MM owed.
Goodman is set to make his MLB debut today, suiting up at catcher in Colorado’s lineup. The 23-year-old has an interesting defensive skillset, as he has seen plenty of time as a catcher, first baseman, and left fielder over his three professional seasons. However, Goodman’s power bat is what punched his ticket to the majors, as he is hitting .259/.338/.581 with 34 homers over 467 combined PA at Double-A and Triple-A. Goodman has only 15 games and 67 PA under his belt with Triple-A Albuquerque, but he has a 1.321 OPS over his brief stint with the Rockies’ top affiliate.
A fourth-round pick for the Rox in the 2021 draft, Goodman is ranked 10th by Baseball America and 12th by MLB Pipeline in their listings of Colorado’s best prospects. There is no doubt about his power potential, as BA’s scouting report gives him a 70-grade in power and notes that Goodman “produces big-time bat speed with a violent, leveraged swing.” This pop has helped Goodman be very productive at the plate despite a relatively lacking average and OBP, as he still need more overall polish to his approach. Defensively, Goodman can play multiple positions but he might top out at average whenever he lines up on the diamond.
With the Rockies well out of contention, the team has looked to several youngsters early in their big league careers in order to get a head start on evaluations heading into 2024. If Goodman can hit well in his first trip to the Show, he’ll earn consideration as an interesting bench or part-time option heading into next season, as he wouldn’t be relegated to only backup duty behind starting catcher Elias Diaz.