With the impeding departure of All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie, the Oakland Athletics appear to have shored up the keystone position with Jurickson Profar.
Oakland will acquire the former No. 1 overall prospect from the Texas Rangers, according to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that includes seven players, a draft pick and international money.
Full trade, sources tell Yahoo Sports:
Oakland gets: Jurickson Profar
Texas gets: Brock Burke, Eli White, Kyle Bird, Yoel Espinal, international $
Tampa Bay gets: 38th pick in 2019 draft, Emilio Pagan, Rollie Lacy
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 21, 2018
In return for Profar, the Rangers received infield prospect Eli White from the Rays along with a trio of pitchers from the Rays. White was the Rangers No. 17 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while none of Brock Burke, Kyle Bird, or Yoel Espinal were in the Rays’ top 30. They also will receive international bonus pool money from the Athletics, although the amount has not been reported yet.
Meanwhile, the Rays picked up a Competitive Balance Round A draft pick, reliever Emilio Pagan, and pitching prospect Rollie Lacy for the trouble of joining the three-team deal.
Why it works for the Athletics
The A’s were a surprise playoff team last season with 97 wins, and Lowrie was a key part of their turnaround. Second on the team with 4.9 WAR, Lowrie made his first All-Star game and slashed .267/.353/.448 with a career-high 23 home runs. Profar will be a natural replacement.
The 26-year-old native of Curacao was the consensus top prospect in 2013 but got off to a slow start to his major league career after a series of injuries. Profar debuted in 2012 and got extended playing time the next season but lost 2014 and ’15 to recurring shoulder maladies.
Profar finally broke out in 2018 by hitting .254/.335/.458 in 146 games while playing all over the diamond. A shortstop by trade, he played all four infield positions plus left field. Profar can immediately slide in at second base — since Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Marcus Semien have the other infield positions locked down — and back up any position.
Why it works for the Rangers
The Rangers are in the midst of a rebuild, and with just two years of control left for Profar, he was unlikely to be around the next time they will be competitive. Given that he has above-average injury risk, the Rangers were able to get sell Profar at his highest value since he was the league’s top prospect.
Profar was slated to start at the hot corner with surefire Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre retiring at the end of the season. Now, they can turn to prospect Patrick Wisdom, part-time catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa, or very possibly Joey Gallo.
White could factor into the major league roster fairly quickly, as he hit well at Double-A Midland and excelled in the Arizona Fall League. He could be a utility infielder or more if he continues to rake. Meanwhile, Burke is the most intriguing arm acquired from the Rays. The tall lefty has been up to 97 mph and struck out 158 batters in 137 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A last season.
Why it works for the Rays
The Rays didn’t have to give up any of their top prospects and wound up with an intriguing 27-year-old reliever and good draft pick. For a team with limited payroll flexibility and a dependence on relief pitching, this is very on-brand.
Pagan was excellent in his rookie season for the Seattle Mariners in 2017, holding a 3.22 ERA with 56 strikeouts and eight walks in 50 1/3 innings. He was less effective after being dealt to Oakland for Ryon Healy with a 4.35 ERA, although he maintained an above-average strikeout rate (24.1 percent).
The draft pick may be even more important to the Rays, as the 38th pick in the 2017 draft came with a $1.88 million slot value last season. Tampa Bay now owns four of the top 61 picks in next year’s draft, including picks 22, 35, and 61.
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