SAN DIEGO -- One of the final pieces in the Padres' intricate offseason puzzle may have just fallen into place.
San Diego bolstered its bench in a big way, bringing back free-agent utility man Jurickson Profar on a three-year deal that includes player options following both the 2021 and 2022 seasons and a mutual option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. It is worth $21 million, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, though the Padres did not confirm the value of the deal.
Profar spent the 2020 season in San Diego, batting .278/.343/.428 while playing five different positions defensively -- primarily left field after Tommy Pham was injured. The 27-year-old switch hitter is entering his eighth big league season, the first five of which came in Texas. He arrived in San Diego last offseason in a deal sending catcher Austin Allen to the A’s.
The affable Profar quickly became a favorite in the San Diego clubhouse, and he's made it clear he's amenable to any role. That's important, because Pham should be back to full strength for Spring Training, and the Padres return starters at all eight positions. Plus, they signed toolsy infielder Ha-Seong Kim from Korea earlier this month.
That wouldn't seem to leave at-bats available for Profar. But he's a switch-hitter who can play basically anywhere in the outfield and infield. The Padres are confident they'll find playing time for him.
"We'll get to Spring Training, we'll really start to dig in more when we have everybody on the field," Preller said earlier this month prior to the signing. "We have a lot of confidence that we have players that are going to be able to move around.
"Again, it's also going from 60 games to  games. We've talked about that as a group a lot here. Last year was truly a sprint. This year is getting back to a marathon. ... We're going to keep our players fresh."
Corner outfielders Pham and Wil Myers have dealt with their share of ailments through the years, and Profar provides some valuable insurance. More than that, it should allow manager Jayce Tingler to rest Pham or Myers when he sees fit, potentially against tough right-handers. Profar could also serve as a defensive replacement for Pham in left field, as he did during the 2020 postseason.
In any case, the acquisition of Profar likely fills out what should be a potent bench in San Diego. Assuming the eight returning starters fill those same roles, here's a look at the Padres' bench options:
Definitely in: Profar, Kim, C Victor Caratini
In the mix: OF Brian O'Grady, OF Jorge Oña, C Luis Campusano, IF Jorge Mateo
The Profar signing is merely the latest move in a busy offseason for Preller. He's already added three big-name pitchers to his rotation in Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. On the bench, he's added Kim, Caratini and O'Grady and has now re-signed Profar.
If there's one area remaining that might require an upgrade, it's the bullpen. But that need could be filled by transitioning Ryan Weathers and Adrian Morejon to relief roles, now that Musgrove has seemingly solidified the rotation.
Again, it's still possible that the Padres will add relief help or Minor League depth. (It wouldn't ever be prudent to declare that Preller is done making moves.)
But after their latest acquisition, Preller and the Padres seem as though they'd be content to head to Spring Training with this group. It's been a busy winter, to say the least.