Profar heading back to Padres on 1-year deal (source)

February 12th, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The most obvious Padres signing that hadn't happened yet this winter ... is happening.

San Diego has agreed to a one-year deal with veteran outfielder , sources told MLB.com on Monday. The deal has not been confirmed by the club and is pending a physical.

The fit makes perfect sense. The Padres were glaringly thin on outfielders. Profar has expressed a love of playing in San Diego -- and he has performed there, compared to his other stops.

“He’s a pro,” said manager Mike Shildt, dusting off his pun game. “He’s a guy we’re familiar with, very popular in the clubhouse, a good player, switch-hitter, versatile. ... A good glue guy to have back.”

The move, at long last, will give San Diego a full outfield on its 40-man roster. Profar joins Fernando Tatis Jr. and José Azocar as the only rostered Padres outfielders. The team will continue to look for outfield help and remains likely to add at least one more, possibly two.

Still, there will be opportunity for Profar as well as a handful of younger Padres to win playing time. That includes No. 2 prospect Jackson Merrill, Shildt said, noting that Merrill would receive reps in left field (along with his usual reps at shortstop and around the infield).

“We’ve got a lot of opportunity for him,” Shildt said.

Merrill, Graham Pauley and Jakob Marsee (the reigning Arizona Fall League MVP) comprise an intriguing group of prospects in Padres camp. All three bat left-handed, and lefties are few and far between on the current 40-man roster. Marsee is the only bona fide outfielder of the group -- a center fielder, who can also play the corners. But Merrill and Pauley have gotten reps in left field and will continue to do so.

All three could compete for places on the Opening Day roster, even if the Padres add another outfielder, as is expected.

“It’s a wide-open camp,” Shildt said. “For the outfield, for our starting pitching, for our bench. We’ve got a lot of good candidates for a lot of different spots.”

Enter Profar -- who helps the Padres accomplish something they wanted to accomplish: They wanted opportunity for their young players, without the urgency to push them to the big leagues too fast. If team brass deems those prospects aren’t yet ready, Profar can slide into a bigger role. If they are ready, Profar takes a backseat as a pinch-hitter and bench piece.

Profar batted .242/.321/.368 in 125 games last season, mostly with the Rockies. But when he landed in San Diego after being waived by Colorado, he posted a .776 OPS down the stretch.

In 10 big league seasons, including parts of four with San Diego, Profar has posted a .238/.322/.383 slash line with 87 homers. He was a starter and a regular contributor on a pair of Padres playoff teams in 2020 and '22.

It's still likely that Profar will serve mostly as a backup, earning occasional starts in left field, as well as at first base and at DH. For now, however, he's the starting left fielder. The Padres’ search for starting outfielders continues, albeit with a bit of extra security in Profar.

“Relative to where we are now, there’s at-bats for him to have, opportunities for him to start,” Shildt said. “Could be matchup-based, being a switch-hitter. But he’ll start, and he’ll move around a little bit. He’s versatile.”

Worth noting

• Robert Suarez officially reported to Padres camp on Monday, though Wandy Peralta and Luis Patiño remain hung up by visa issues, without a timeline for their arrivals. The rest of San Diego's pitchers and catchers have reported.

• The full squad doesn’t formally report until Friday, but Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth arrived on Monday. Machado, who underwent surgery to address the tennis elbow in his right arm during the offseason, is slated to speak with reporters on Tuesday.

• Ha-Seong Kim, meanwhile, was on hand Sunday for pitchers-and-catchers report day. He spoke with media for the first time on Monday, addressing the trade speculation surrounding him during the offseason.

“I can only control what’s in my control,” Kim said through interpreter David Lee. “My focus right now is just to focus on getting in shape for the season and putting my best foot forward for the season.”