Profar agrees to 1-year deal with Rockies

March 21st, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Sunday morning’s agreement with switch-hitting Jurickson Profar addressed major needs the Rockies have hoped to fill all offseason.

The 30-year-old will join Colorado on a one-year deal, the club announced on Tuesday. It is expected to be worth $7.75 million with an additional $1 million possible if he reaches 400 plate appearances. He profiles as the team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. In a corresponding move, left-handed pitcher Lucas Gilbreath was placed on the 60-day injured list.

If all goes as expected, Profar will be in camp later this week and will have about a week to prepare for the season opener on March 28 at Petco Park in San Diego – the place he called home in 2021 and ‘22 before opting out of the final year of his three-year, $21 million contract with the Padres.

During the World Baseball Classic, Profar hit .231 (4-for-13) with one home run, three strikeouts and three walks for the Netherlands, a squad managed by Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens.

As San Diego’s starting left fielder in 2022, Profar logged career highs in games played (152), plate appearances (658) and bWAR (3.1) while slashing .243/.331/.391 with 15 homers, 36 doubles, 58 RBIs and 73 walks.

The signing is the final piece needed in the Rockies’ plan to move Kris Bryant from left field to right field, with Yonathan Daza expected to play center.

Bryant was limited to 42 games last year – the first of a seven-year, $182 million contract – because of injuries to his back and right foot. Upon joining the Rockies, Bryant found the deep left-center gap to be “a graveyard.” Right has a tricky out-of-town scoreboard and involves more throwing but has less ground to cover than left. Designated hitter Charlie Blackmon, who is expected to return soon from back soreness and be ready for the start the regular season, can play right field when Bryant has a day off.

Profar also improves the club’s depth. Before the start of Spring Training, Randal Grichuk underwent bilateral sports hernia surgery that will delay the start of his season. Throughout camp, non-roster utility man Harold Castro emerged as the best option in left. Now Castro can be used as the multi-position, left-handed bat he was during his five seasons with the Tigers.

Since the start of camp, the Rockies have added three veterans in hopes of a surprise campaign in the NL West after last year’s 68-94, last-place finish. They added lefty reliever Brad Hand to a bullpen already bolstered with offseason pickups Brent Suter and Pierce Johnson. Two weeks ago, the Rockies reached a Minor League contract with corner infielder Mike Moustakas, who entered Sunday 9-for-18 with a home run, three doubles and eight RBIs and is on track to make the Opening Day roster.

Profar has come a long way since multiple outlets listed him as No. 1 overall prospect in 2013 while with the Rangers. Although he made his MLB debut at the age of 19 in 2012, it would be another six years before he became a fixture in Texas’ lineup.

Profar was set to take over as the Rangers’ starting second baseman when the club traded Ian Kinsler prior to 2014, but he hurt his right shoulder during Spring Training and wound up missing the entire season. Surgery on the same shoulder the following February cost Profar all of 2015 as well.

After playing just 112 games across 2016-17, Profar had something of a breakout in 2018, serving as a utility infielder and hitting .254 with 20 homers, 10 steals and a .793 OPS over 594 plate appearances for the Rangers. However, Texas sent him to the A’s that December in a three-team, seven-player trade that also involved the Rays.

He spent a season with Oakland before being traded to the Padres in December 2019, and he returned to San Diego on a three-year contract after becoming a free agent the following offseason.

Profar is a career .238 hitter with 78 home runs, 313 RBIs and a .708 OPS over 836 games at the big-league level.