Out of the 2021 MLB free agents, Jurickson Profar offers a unique blend of versatility and experience. Formerly, the top prospect in all of baseball, Profar has spent seven seasons with three franchises. He originally came up as a hot-shot second baseman for the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers.
In his true rookie season in 2013, Profar performed better, but he still was not firing on all cylinders. Profar missed the entire 2014 and 2015 seasons due to shoulder injuries.
In 2016 and 2017, Profar only played 112 games for the Rangers. He continued to struggle with the bat, posting a 67 OPS+. However, he flashed his defensive versatility, suiting up at all four infield spots and left field in both seasons.
In 2018, Profar put together the best season of his career. Playing primarily as a left-side infielder, Profar had a career-high 107 OPS+. He hit 20 home runs, stole 10 bases, and finished in the top 10 in the AL in triples. The only downside to his season was his abysmal defensive metrics. He posted -10 defensive runs saved according to Fielding Bible. He was a -12 OAA defender according to Baseball Savant.
In December of 2018, Texas traded Profar to the Oakland Athletics. The A’s needed a replacement for the recently-departed Jed Lowrie, and Profar played 124 games at second base for Oakland. He had another poor season as a defender, posting -4 OAA and -15 DRS at second base, and he slumped to be a below-average hitter. He still hit 20 home runs, but his batting average plummeted to .218, 22 points below his Texas average.
Oakland traded Profar to the San Diego Padres in December of 2019.
Profar was originally meant to be a utility player and second baseman for the Padres, but an injury to Tommy Pham opened up left field for Profar. Across 56 games and 202 plate appearances, Profar had the best season of his career. He had an OPS+ of 113, vastly outperforming Pham even when he returned. He had the first year of his career with a positive offensive and defensive WAR, tallying a total of 1.4 bWAR. He was an average defensive left fielder by OAA, but he shined in the eyes of the Fielding Bible. His four defensive runs saved were tied for fifth in MLB. Now, Profar is one of the most under the radar 2021 MLB free agents.
2021 MLB Free Agents: The Future for Profar:
Profar has been inconsistent throughout his MLB career, but he took a massive step in the right direction in 2020. Despite it being a smaller sample size than most seasons, Profar should catch the eyes of many organizations around the league. With the designated hitter likely leaving the National League, NL teams will look for more and more positional versatility when looking at 2021 MLB free agents. Profar can play five positions in the field, and he has had flashes of being an average defensive player. His best defensive spot is likely in left field, but he could play some innings anywhere in the infield.
The underlying metrics backup Profar’s strong 2020 season. He was in the 64th percentile in xwOBA and 82nd percentile in expected batting average. He may not have a good barrel, hard hit, or sweet spot percentages, but he was able to put the ball in play more in 2020. Down the stretch, he experienced good BABIP luck, but the stat is volatile.
Profar is a switch hitter as well. He provides more pop from the left-side, slugging 29 points higher, but he gets on-base more from the right side. He also has experience batting from all spots of the order, but he would likely be a bottom of the order hitter for his future team.
Potential Landing Spots
Profar has been linked to American League squads like the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals as a starting position player. Many teams could use his switch-hitting or positional versatility in a utility infielder role, but there is an option for him to be an everyday player for a middle-tier team.
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