One of the stories that Rangers’ fans have been following since 2012 has been the career of Jurickson Profar. Named the number one prospect in all of baseball at just 19 years old, Texas fans were salivating at having possibly one of the best players in the game on their squad, leading them to championship after championship.
After a couple more development seasons in the minors, Profar’s shoulder became his downfall. He missed all of 2014 with an injured shoulder and then had surgery, missing most of the 2015 season.
Since then, Profar has been treading water and has become a poster child for the slogan, “Prospects will break your heart.” Now, the Rangers are at a crossroads with their young utility player.
Would You or Wouldn’t You: Trade Jurickson Profar?
Profar is going into his age-25 season and has transitioned, unsuccessfully, into a utility player. Defensively, his glove and his instincts can play. A shortstop by trade, Profar shifted over to 2nd base after Elvis Andrus’ long-term contract came into play.
Once Rougned Odor emerged, following Profar’s shoulder surgery, the struggle to find Profar a permanent position on the diamond began. He’s played 3rd base, a relatively natural transition for a shortstop.
He’s filled in at short and 2nd, and after Ben Zobrist emerged on the national scene with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, the Rangers tried to turn Profar into their own Zobrist. The hope was that, with a clean bill of health, the instincts that made him the number one prospect would keep him at the Major League level in a comfortable role.
Why You Would: Profar isn’t happy.
Jurickson Profar was held out of Round Rock lineup last night. Hearing he's expressed unhappiness over not being dealt today— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) July 31, 2017
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement if you’re trying to showcase him for another team, but the reasons he’s not happy are perfectly clear, perfectly understandable and perfectly solvable. Why did Profar want to be traded? He wants a single position on a Major League roster. Right now, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, that position doesn’t exist on the Rangers.
In my opinion, it’s not that Profar minds getting shuffled defensively across the diamond, but his bat has suffered as a result. The adage goes, “If you can hit, you can stay.” Profar hasn’t hit, therefore, he hasn’t stayed. Over 90 games with Texas (admittedly, more of a regular utility fielder’s workload than a super utility player), playing at each infield spot and some in left field, Profar slashed just .239/.321/.338.
That same year for Round Rock, playing only shortstop and 2nd base, his slash was .284/.356/.426. In a much smaller sample size of 22 games in Arlington in 2017, again playing the same positions, he slashed .172/.294/.207. In 87 games for Round Rock, .287/.383/.428.
One could say that the decreased offense is a result of issue to adjust to Major League hitting. But Profar hasn’t had a chance to adjust to a natural position at the Major League level either. The idea you try to sell to clubs is that, given a defined position, no matter where it might be, Jurickson Profar’s bat will find him. His glove plays all over – perhaps more at middle infield than others, but it plays. That sort of utility might be mostly useful to a National League team.
The Rangers have another reason to want to trade the young, supposed phenom. Profar, in 2017, made $1.05 million. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Profar stands to only gain a minimal increase, but based off of Jon Daniels prediction that payroll would go down, it seems that every penny would count.
Holding Profar off of the Major League club in September may not have improved the Netherlander’s mood, but it did give him an extra year of control. Three years of control and a $1.1 million salary for 2018 sounds awfully attractive for a team just on the cusp of competitiveness.
Profar won’t command near the return that he once did as the number one prospect in baseball, but the potential for breakout can still fetch something useful to the Major League club.
Why You Wouldn’t: If you subscribe to the theory that the Texas Rangers need to start the rebuild process in advance of the move into Globe Life Field, then keeping Profar around to develop those skills is ideal.
Assuming that you trade away Adrian Beltre (don’t shoot the hypothetical messenger) and eat a couple of large contracts, the defensive field opens up for Jurickson Profar in a big way. Profar could play opposite of Joey Gallo at either corner, take over at shortstop or second, or even take a corner outfield spot.
Once settled in, now the Rangers could benefit from Profar’s comfort at the plate. By the time Globe Life Field opens, Profar would just be 27, entering the prime of his career. Continuing to offload salary in the meantime means you could afford to pay Profar if he proves himself worthy.
What would I do? I WOULD trade Jurickson Profar – pending other decisions from the front office. In short, the reasons that you keep Jurickson Profar are the same reasons that you would try to sell him to another team in a trade.
The problem is that any future involving Profar doesn’t get painted until the Rangers find out the results of their pursuits for competitive pieces in 2018. Until we find out whether Texas can land big pitching, more patient bats and better defenders, we all do what Jurickson Profar has been doing for 5 years now – wait.
What would you do? Share your opinion on trading former top prospect Jurickson Profar with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.