It hasn’t even been a week since the San Diego Padres lost the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies, so the wound is still fresh. Unfortunately, the front office doesn’t have any time to dwell on the defeat. Their attention immediately shifts to the offseason and the Padres figure to be one of the more busier teams in MLB this winter.
The biggest storylines hanging over San Diego include a possible extension for Juan Soto, addressing the future of Wil Myers, the club’s longest-tenured player, and fellow free agents Robert Suarez, Brandon Drury, Josh Bell and Sean Manaea.
That list doesn’t even include Mike Clevinger, Craig Stammen and Nick Martinez, so the Padres’ pitching staff and lineup could look a lot different come spring training.
While GM A.J. Preller gets his ducks in a row, reports are already beginning to leak about the team’s free agents and their respective markets.
When it comes to Jurickson Profar, a vital clubhouse personality and the team’s most versatile defender, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune understands Profar is expected to test a thin left field market this winter.
The Padres can’t afford to let Jurickson Profar leave this offseason.
"“Jurickson Profar hit .243 with with a .732 OPS, 36 doubles and 15 homers while becoming a top-tier left fielder in 2022,” Acee wrote. “That arguably makes him worth more than the $7.5 million he is due next season, and he is expected to exercise his option and test a market that is relatively light on left fielders . . . There is incentive on both sides to get a deal done to keep him in San Diego.”"
The Padres obviously can’t keep all of their free agents and pitching should take precedence over field positions given it was their calling card in 2022, but Preller and company should do whatever it takes to keep Profar in San Diego.
At the end of the day, Profar could have several suitors on the open market, but the veteran outfielder’s been outspoken about his love for San Diego and the comfort he has playing for the organization. Could he give the Padres a hometown discount so long as the front office doesn’t make him a lowball offer?
If you compare Profar’s $7.5 million player option to another veteran like Myers, who has a whopping $20 million club option this offseason and might be in for a reduced role with Fernando Tatis Jr. returning from suspension, shouldn’t Profar be the priority?
Elite left fielders don’t grow on trees — Profar’s 10 outfield assists in 2022 were tied for the fourth-most in MLB — and he brings a different look to the leadoff spot relative to most teams with his ability to hit home runs (three seasons with 15 or more) and draw walks (his 73 walks ranked 14th in baseball this year).
Again, retaining Profar might not be No. 1 on Preller’s offseason agenda, but 2022 proved he’s essential to the Padres’ success.
Don’t let him get away.