Free agent infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar and the Padres are in agreement on a one-year deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The MVP Sports Group client will be guaranteed $1MM, per Jon Heyman of The New York Post, with the deal still pending a physical. Profar can also add another $1.5MM via incentives based on plate appearances, per Murray.
It’s a bit of an early birthday present for Profar, who turns 31 next week. His career has been extremely up-and-down, something that MLBTR covered in 2022. Last year was another downswing on that sine wave, with 2023 his worst season to date. He opted out of his previous deal with the Padres at the end of 2022, taking the $1MM buyout instead of the $7.5MM salary. He lingered onto the market until the middle of March but did eventually get a one-year, $7.75MM deal from the Rockies, narrowly edging out the money he left on the table.
The move to Colorado didn’t suit Profar. His 18.2% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate were pretty close to his career norms, but he hit just eight home runs in 472 plate appearances. Given the expectations of the hitter-friendly environment at Coors Field, his tepid .236/.316/.364 batting line amounted to a wRC+ of just 72. His defense was graded poorly as well, and the Rockies released him in August. He returned to the Padres late in the year and finished strong, but in a small sample of just 14 games. FanGraphs considered him to be two wins below replacement on the year while Baseball Reference had him at -1.3 WAR.
Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller was a key figure in the Rangers’ international scouting department when Profar originally signed and was eventually ranked the top prospect in all of baseball. Multiple shoulder surgeries have derailed his trajectory, but Profar has still shown inconsistent flashes of solid MLB production and Preller clearly still holds an affinity for him. This will be his fifth season suiting up for the Padres, for whom he carries a .246/.334/.376 batting line in 1321 plate appearances dating back to 2020.
From the team’s vantage point, Profar helps to fill a dire need for outfielders. Prior to this signing, San Diego only had two outfielders on the 40-man roster: Fernando Tatis Jr. and light-hitting Jose Azocar. They’ve also been working top shortstop prospect Jackson Merrill out in left field and could consider the 20-year-old as an outfield option at some point this season, should that experiment go smoothly, though as it stands Merrill has played just 46 games at the Double-A level and has not yet played a single game in Triple-A.
The Friars have also been working to cut payroll throughout the offseason, so securing Profar at barely more than the league minimum surely held appeal. Profar at least gives the Padres three big league outfielders on the 40-man roster, but his signing likely doesn’t rule out the addition of another more notable signing/acquisition who could push the 27-year-old Azocar into a fourth outfield role for which he’s better suited. With Profar added to the fold, San Diego’s payroll now sits at a projected $159MM, per Roster Resource — more than $90MM south of last year’s franchise-record $255MM mark. The Padres have about $215MM worth of projected luxury tax considerations, however.
In all likelihood, there are still some additions to be made by the Padres between now and Opening Day. Their outfield depth remains perilously thin, and they’ve reportedly been exploring both the trade and free agent markets for ways to change that. Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran is reportedly one potential target. The Padres also have questions in the fourth and fifth spots in their rotation, behind top starters Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Michael King. In-house options include Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, Drew Thorpe, Matt Waldron, Pedro Avila, Jay Groome and Glenn Otto, among others, but the Padres are also still looking into the lower tiers of free agency. They reportedly have some interest in Noah Syndergaard and in Michael Lorenzen.