Do the Detroit Tigers turn to another native of Curacao to fill the void at second baseman in 2021?
Just over a month ago, I wrote about the Detroit Tigers resigning Jonathan Schoop. He provided power and before his injury, was a steady presence in the lineup. On the year, he had an OPS+ of 115 and a slight tick up from his career average in OPS at .799.
However, as pretty much every contributor will write this off-season, the uncertainly of the Detroit Tigers free agent habits will be up in the air. So if the Tigers do not resign Schoop, consider his fellow countryman from Curacao, Jurickson Profar.
Why Jurickson Profar?
The switch-hitting infielder for the San Diego Padres has versatility, playing in left field, second base, right field, a game at first base, and in centerfield in 2020. He has power, hitting 20 home runs in back to back seasons in 2018 and 2019 for the Rangers and A’s, respectively. His 2020 numbers stack up like this.. 278/.343/.428 with 7 home runs in 202 plate appearances.
He strikes out less than 20%. Now, granted, that is odd to point out quickly but consider this. Every Detroit Tiger regular in 2020 had a strikeout ratio of over 20%. (Team average was 27.3%, leading the league) and his 13.9%K rate was among the top 8 percent of the league.
He played in left field more than second base due to Jake Cronenworth’s impressive season. The Tigers could use help everywhere and if Profar can play any of the positions in a pinch, it certainly helps out the Tigers including shortstop, where he has played 104 games over five seasons if an injury to Castro happens or whatever the case may be.
A few statcast numbers that are encouraging. He hit .286 against breaking balls in 2020, which was a big jump to his 2019 numbers. (in 200 pitches)
Why it may not work
Profar has been with three different teams in the last three different seasons. After his trade from Oakland to San Diego, he found himself back with A.J Preller and Jayce Tingler, two faces he was familiar with from his days in the Texas Rangers system. Preller ran the scouting department in Latin America and Tingler managed him in the Rangers farm system.
“My last year in Texas, I really got a chance to play and I started to get comfortable playing at the big-league level,” Profar said. “Then I got traded and I had to start again. This year, I feel the Padres are the same as the Rangers. I’m very comfortable here.”
You do worry about his hard hit contact (27.7%) which was down from his career average but it was a 60 game season. So that take that for whatever it’s worth.
He did say he hopes that the Padres resign him in the off-season. So why did I bring him up? If the Detroit Tigers decide to break the mold and sign their first player to a multiple-year deal, he’s under 30 (turns 28 in February) and providing the versatility the Tigers desperately need. Instead of scrambling to get a player who may not be ready when they get the call-up, Profar, along with Willi Castro, can provide position versatility and some power.