As far as starts to a major league career go, it doesn’t get much more promising than Jurickson Profar’s. He was a highly touted No. 1 overall prospect, who also happened to go deep in his first big league at-bat back in 2012. Since then, Profar hasn’t really lived up to the hype that typically accompanies the best prospect in baseball, going through a plethora of injuries and also just simply poor play. Now as he’s entering his age-30 season as a free agent, would he be a good fit for the Yankees?
He came up as an infielder, but has come to the point where he played exclusively in left field for the Padres in 2022. Profar is a switch-hitter who, when healthy and playing, is right around an average big league hitter. In 2022, he logged a full and very solid campaign playing in 152 games and notching 648 plate appearances. He slashed .243/.331/.391, good for a 110 wRC+ while accumulating 2.5 fWAR on the season. All things considered, this was probably his best full season in the majors. He had an even better shortened 2020 campaign, but obviously that’s a much smaller sample to judge upon.
Profar’s first handful of seasons were cut short for a number of reasons, including missing the entirety of 2014 and 2015 with shoulder issues. Since 2018, however, the switch-hitter has managed to be a mostly everyday player bouncing between the Rangers, Athletics, and Padres. In that time, he has basically been an exactly average hitter, and there are much worse things you could be.
In those five mostly full seasons, Profar has maintained a 101 wRC+ with an on-base percentage of .326 and slugging a hair over .400. There’s no particular part of his offensive game that stands out: he hit a respectable 15 homers last year, and has surpassed 20 twice in his career. The past two seasons however, Profar has posted the two highest walk rates he’s had in a full season, while also maintaining a relatively low 15.7 percent strikeout rate in 2022.
It feels like he’s been around forever, after all he debuted all the way back in 2012, but still has yet to turn 30. He’s a league-average switch-hitter who can move around the diamond when needed with experience all over. That is a solid piece to have on the roster of virtually any team.
For the Yankees, the long awaited re-signing of Aaron Judge obviously helped shore up the outfield. But, the offseason is young, and additional skilled utility players are never a bad thing to add. FanGraphs has him projected to get $30 million over three years, which feels a little high if anything. I would doubt New York shells that out for Profar, who likely wouldn’t have a definitive role with the team, but it’s not impossible. The market can change a lot as the offseason progresses, and say the Yankees deal Gleyber Torres for a pitcher for example, it could make sense to pair Profar with Oswaldo Cabrera to move around the field when needed.
Jurickson Profar timed the best full season of his career well, as he now enters free agency on the cusp of turning 30. There will likely be teams out there willing to bring him in for a full-time role, but things can change for him and/or the Yankees, and he would be a significant upgrade over the spot Marwin Gonzalez occupied this year. A Profar-Yankees match may seem unlikely at the moment, but a league-average switch-hitter who has played several positions would be a useful addition for any team to make.