Don’t Expect the Cubs to Go After Jurickson Profar as an Outfield Patch
I don’t think you can draw any hard conclusions from this report, so let’s not go too far with it, but I do think it is worth sharing for a few reasons.
Basically, the report is this: Patrick Mooney at The Athletic says, in the wake of Seiya Suzuki’s oblique injury, “it doesn’t appear” that the Cubs are looking at free agent utility man Jurickson Profar.
If you wanted to be very optimistic, you could say that, if Suzuki were expected to miss half a season or something, then maybe the Cubs WOULD be looking at Profar. After all, Profar, 30, can not only play a corner outfield spot to help the Cubs in the interim, but he’s a defensively versatile switch-hitter who could fit on just about any roster even after Suzuki returns. You could make the case that, unlike trying to sign a pure right field fill-in who might become wasted roster space once Suzuki is healthy, Profar is good to have around no matter what. Profar hit .243/.331/.391/110 wRC+ last year and opted out of his deal with the Padres, which would have paid him $7.5 million this year (he got a $1 million buyout, so it was actually a $6.5 million decision).
All that said, Profar was actually a way-below-average hitter in 2021, and has played very little right field in his career (where he rated poorly). It’s not a guarantee that he would be a dramatic upgrade for this roster, especially given the presence of many other guys who could fill in a corner outfield spot if necessary (Trey Mancini, Christopher Morel, Nelson Velazquez, Patrick Wisdom, etc.). Even if the Cubs had tons of cash left, and even if Suzuki WERE expected to miss half the season, it’s not entirely clear that Profar would be the right move at this moment.
As for the cash, we have been operating under the assumption that the Cubs do not want to eclipse the first luxury tax tier this season. They are right around $8 million under that $233 million mark right now, and the Cubs will want to leave some space available for in-season additions. To be sure, $8 million is actually a TON of space when it comes to in-season additions, but if Profar got, say, $6 million in AAV this year, that just about eats it all up.
Long story short: don’t look for the Cubs to pursue Profar at this moment, even if the Suzuki oblique injury is very serious and long-term. (I suppose this conclusion could change if there were an additional injury or three, and I suspect that’s exactly what Profar is waiting for at this point: Spring Training injuries around the league. The Dodgers might give him a look now after the Gavin Lux injury, for example.)
Could the Cubs look at other options in trade or on the waiver wire? Oh, sure. The cost there could make sense. But the rub, again, is that the Cubs probably have in-house options that are just about as good as anything they could realistically grab in trade or on waivers.