Is Jurickson Profar the Padres’ solution in left field?

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Outfield options are dwindling for the San Diego Padres ahead of the 2024 season.

The Seattle Mariners acquired Mitch Haniger from the Giants for a reunion in the Pacific Northwest, taking away a potential outfielder for the Friars. San Diego may have to turn to a reunion of its own and bring back Jurickson Profar to play left field.

It is well-documented that Jurickson Profar is a beloved member of the Padres clubhouse.

His vibrant smile always stood out during his first tenure in San Diego from 2020 through the postseason run in 2022. With his agent Scott Boras, Profar opted out of the final year of his contract to sign with the Colorado Rockies for 2023 and earned just under $1 million more than he would have if he had stayed in San Diego.

After 111 games of subpar hitting, while playing home games at Coors Field, the Rockies released Profar and paved the way for a reunion with the Padres during the final month of the season. In 49 plate appearances, Profar slashed .295/.367/.409 and is once again a free agent.

San Diego has cut its payroll since crushing franchise records in the last couple of years. Left field is still a hole for the Padres, with seemingly few cheap options to fill it. Profar absolutely fits the mold. Earning $7.75 million and underperforming, it is safe to assume he will make less than that amount win 2024, which may be perfect for the suddenly frugal Padres.

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One thing Profar does well is- get on base.

The switch-hitter works long at bats, draws walks, and is willing to wear pitches for the betterment of the team by standing close to the plate.

In 2021 and 2022, with the Padres, Profar boasted a walk rate above 11%, much higher than the MLB average of eight percent. His three seasons in San Diego before 2023 sport a 102 OPS+, on the good side of the league average. The bat is the stronger part of his game.

In the field, it really depends on how you look at it. Profar, playing in left field, is not afraid to put his body on the line to make the play for his teammates, which is part of the reason he is loved in the clubhouse. He also threw out ten baserunners from the outfield in 2022, which bucked a trend of him generally showing a weak arm.

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However, analytics do not view Profar in high regard when it comes to his glove. His top sprint speed ranked in the 35th and 32nd percentile in 2021 and 2022, respectively. It dropped to the 13th percentile last year. In terms of tracking down balls in the gaps, that is a concern, to say the least. He is slow compared to MLB standards.

Outs Above Average (OAA) is a metric that calculates the probability of the fielder making the play based on how far he has to run and how much time based on similar plays being made in the past. You are then graded on whether you made the catch or not as an outfielder, with no subjectivity in terms of errors. Profar stacked up as poorly as you could in the lowest percentile, even lower than Soto’s third percentile, with -14 OAA. That mark is a steep drop from his already bad -7 OAA in 2021 and -6 the following year. Defensive runs saved (DRS) likes Profar slightly more, grading him just above average in 2022, but significantly below that mark in 2023 and 2021.

There are certainly pros and cons to the Padres bringing back Jurickson Profar for 2024. Time is running out for the Padres to find a suitable left fielder, and Profar needs to find a new home as well. The reunion certainly makes sense if the two parties can align in terms of dollar figures to reunite a fan favorite with the Friar Faithful.

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