Pending MLB free-agent Jurickson Profar enjoyed a productive end to his 2020 season, but will he return to the San Diego Padres?
Jurickson Profar and Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller are familiar with each other.
Preller worked in the Texas Rangers organization, where Profar earned praise as the best prospect in minor league baseball. There is a bond between the two, and perhaps that is why A.J. Preller acquired the infielder/outfielder this past winter from the Oakland Athletics. Preller made a move despite the fact the team did not have a real need for a second baseman.
Profar proved to be more than just a keystone infielder, though, as he played all three outfield positions and played first base for the team. The switch-hitter could have manned third base or shortstop if a need came up, bringing tremendous value to the Padres team. In the modern game of baseball, versatility is key. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers utilize multiple players capable of filling in all over the baseball diamond.
Jurickson Profar fits that mold. The look of a modern ballplayer.
The native of Curacao enjoyed his best season in the Major Leagues last season for the Padres, and it came at the perfect time for him. Despite a slow start where the switch-hitter went 3-for-24 (.125) in July, he rallied to produce a .880 OPS in September and October. Just when the Padres needed him most, Profar turned into an offensive force for San Diego as they made the playoffs for the first time in over 14 years.
This winter, Jurickson Profar is a free agent, and he will be sought after by several teams. With Scott Boras representing him- expect the player to be paid fair market value in his first taste of free agency. But what is fair market value, and can the Padres afford to pay the soon-to-be 28-year-old?
The fact Profar enjoyed his best season in the majors last year only boosted his value. That hurts the Padres, but was his boost in production simply from being on a team he enjoyed playing with? A team is in which he was not required to do the heavy lifting. And will that fact prove useful for the Padres as they negotiate with the pending free agent?
Profar is now blessed with an opportunity to be “the man” at the top of a major league lineup. He should be given decent money and a promise of a starting job somewhere. But can the Padres make that same promise to him? And is Profar content with being viewed as a major offense force by his teammates? Is he comfortable being a player who needs to produce offensively? With the money of a new contract comes expectations, and sometimes those can be tough for players to deal with. Playing ball and having fun is sometimes worth more than being paid top dollar.
Jurickson Profar’s bat was great down the stretch for the Padres, but we are talking about a hitter who has NEVER hit over .300 (in a season) in any level of professional baseball. The promise is there as it always has been, but he will be 28 when the 2021 season begins and is not considered a young phenom by any stretch of the imagination. At what point does a player’s value just become what it is and not what it is expected to become. The Padres surely understand that fact and will not overpay to retain his services.
The veteran makes contact and generally puts the ball in play. There is some speed to his game and a little bit of power, but he does have some limitations. You cannot hide that fact. The true value of Profar lies in the above-mentioned versatility he provides to a manager. You can plug him all over the field and utilize his switch-hitting bat, which is useful in this day and age of the game.
In the coming weeks, Jurickson Profar will be tested. Will the young player chase the all mighty dollar, or will he remain with a team of comfort to him? The Padres represent that comfort. There is no doubt the Padres would love to retain the versatile ballplayer, but his future remains cloudy at best. San Diego can pay the ballplayer fairly, but he will likely get better financial offers elsewhere with a promise of consistent playing time.
The Padres represent comfort to Profar. Where he signs his future contract will be a tough decision for the young player. The is no doubt he enjoyed his time with the Padres and senses the special feeling that is being cultivated about this franchise. But does that warm-fuzzy feeling dictate a potential loss in yearly salary? Only time will tell.