The Texas Rangers confirmed weeks’ worth of trade rumors when it sent infielder Jurickson Profar to the Oakland Athletics in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday morning.
Once considered the MLB’s top prospect, Profar, 26, settled into a role and commanded value with a strong 2018 season in which he posted 20 home runs, 35 doubles, and slashed .254/.335/.458 in a career-high 146 games.
It was the first full season of his career- he battled multiple shoulder injuries and missed all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Rangers had been actively shopping him for most of the offseason and Winter Meetings.
Texas receives LHP’s Brock Burke and Kyle Bird as well as RHP Yoel Espinal from Tampa Bay, in addition to INF Eli White and $750,000 in international slot money from Oakland.
Tampa Bay receives the 38th pick in the 2019 MLB First-year player draft, as well as Emilio Pagan and Rollie Lacy- whom Texas received from Chicago in July as part of the Cole Hamels trade.
Burke is the key piece of the return for Texas. He broke out at the Double-A level, going 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 9 starts.. Espinal, 26, and Bird, who played at the Triple-A level last season, could see innings in Texas’ bullpen in 2019.
White is a plus offensive player who put together strong numbers at the Double-A level last season, and could be a long-term replacement for Profar’s utility infield role in the future.
The trade is significant more than the players acquired and dealt; it’s another sign that Texas is continuing to aggressively pursue a rebuild, and are so committed that they were willing to trade with a long-term project player like Profar to a division rival.
Profar is also under team control through 2020. In those two seasons, Texas wouldn’t likely have been contending in the American League West.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, this Rangers are nearing 20 prospects acquired since July. Moreover, they’ve firmed up a hole that was missing- lower-level starting pitching.
Breakout starters like Joe Palumbo and Jonathan Hernandez had great seasons in the team’s lower minor league levels. Add in Burke and Taylor Hearn, acquired from Pittsburgh in July’s Keone Kela trade, and Texas has a young rotation worth committing to.
One of Texas’ major questions at 2019 Spring Training is simply; who’s on third?
The retirement of Beltre and ensuing trade of Profar crossed off two potential starters that the position for next season. Budding star OF Joey Gallo has vocally expressed his displeasure with playing the position, and according to Grant, the team has “no plans” to move him to third.
In-house options include recently acquired Patrick Wisdom, who played well offensively in 50 at-bats with St. Louis in 2018, or Nolan Fontana, who signed a minor-league contract on Wednesday, and played sparingly with the Los Angeles Angels in 2018.
Ultimately, Oakland got a plus player with the potential to be great in Profar, and Texas stuck by its commitment to a rebuild by bolstering its farm system with young starting pitchers.
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