DALLAS - It wasn't too long ago that The Kingdom of the Netherlands was viewed as a legitimate contender in the World Baseball Classic. Much of that perception was due to the actions Jurickson Profar. The native of Curacao went 13-for-28 with five doubles, a homer and four RBI, slashing .516/.750/.464, leading the Dutch to the Semi-Final round.
At the time, it meant that Profar had played his way onto the 25-man roster for the Texas Rangers. It also may have widened the eyes of some scouts around the league, as the former number one prospect in all of baseball showed that he could be an offensive force - at a position in center field that he picked up less than a few weeks prior.
Fast forward to the regular season, and Profar's immediate worth is as certain as it has been in the past. That is to say, it's not. In an admittedly small sample size of five games, Profar has gone 2-for-14 with three walks and a run scored. He has struck out in each of the games he has played in, shown questionable acumen in his assigned left field and very nearly ran into a couple of outs on the basepaths. With the exception of his two games in Anaheim, Profar's plate appearances haven't looked pretty.
All of this leads to the question: What do you do with Jurickson Profar?
It's clear the Rangers trust him enough to hold down a spot on the bench. The Potential of Profar, as showcased in the WBC, can be a powerful tool late in a game or as a plug-and-play replacement for an injured player. With that, however, comes uncertain and irregular playing time. Profar has all the tools and wherewithal to be an everyday player, no matter what the position. He just lacks the trust from his organization. Is that fair to, well, anyone?
He could have played at first. Ryan Rua could have assumed a primary role as outfielder, while someone like Drew Robinson could have served as the utility. He could have been the everyday left fielder. Rua could have been the primary first baseman, with Delino Deshields serving as the fourth/fifth outfielder. Instead, the Rangers eschewed the potential of using Jurickson Profar as an everyday player and brought back Mike Napoli.
While the fanbase (and I!) welcome Napoli back with open arms, the Rangers and Jeff Banister now are tasked with finding equal playing time for three first basemen and five outfielders. Once Adrian Beltre returns, whenever that may be, that potentially becomes four first basemen and six outfielders, assuming Joey Gallo continues to evolve during this stretch.
Now, the question isn't so much, "What do you do with Jurickson Profar," as it is, "What are they doing with Jurickson Profar?"
You have on your hands an everyday Major League asset making a pre-arbitration salary of $1.05 million. He's not playing everyday. His peak value to other organizations was the day he was proclaimed the number one prospect in baseball. Don't get me wrong, I would have held onto him, too. After all, why wouldn't I want that guy playing for ME?
Except he didn't. A two-year absence with varying shoulder injuries sent his value plummeting. Since returning in 2016, Profar hasn't rebuilt that value. This is through no fault of his own. Lacking consistent playing time, playing five different positions and still adjusting to the speed of a Major League game, Profar has floundered a bit up in Arlington.
Sure, you would think a number one prospect should handle that with ease, but A) not all prospects are stars, and B) he was a number one prospect at one position, with an assumption of 600+ plate appearances at the Major League level whenever he was called up. It hasn't happened.
There's no immediate reason to think it will happen either. Elvis Andrus is signed through at least 2018 - without opting out after that year or the next, he's here through 2022, maybe 2023. Rougned Odor was just extended for five years. Once Adrian Beltre retires, Joey Gallo is his successor. First base? Maybe, but then you're not taking advantage of his range and arm as a middle infielder. He's not an accomplished outfielder yet, and without regular repetitions, he may never be one.
"What are they doing with Jurickson Profar," now becomes, "What do they need to do with Jurickson Profar?"
They've backed themselves into a corner. You'd love to get him regular playing time, so as to showcase him to other clubs and say, "Yes, we have an asset that can be beneficial for both of us." But to send him down to Triple-A? What would that prove? Teams are going to want to see how he does at the Major League level.
The immediate answer is to keep him on the 25-man roster as part of this crazy left field platoon through July. If the bat doesn't pick up and remain consistent, however, that's a detriment to your club. At the same time, you have to find out his value to you, whether that's as a player or as a trade chip.
On an American League team, having that kind of talent just ride the pine until he's needed isn't as valuable as it would be to a National League team. Whether the team plans to keep him as an outfielder or send him off, he has to get some semblance of regular playing time.
I love Jurickson Profar, and I think that he's going to be a big star, given the aforementioned regular playing time. It's just not going to be for the Texas Rangers.
Do you think the Rangers should give Profar regular playing time? Share your Profar takes with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.
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