The Oakland Athletics completed a three-way trade with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday which resulted in the team acquiring infielder Jurickson Profar.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the deal.
Profar is the centerpiece of the trade, with the Rangers acquiring prospects from Oakland and Tampa Bay while the Rays will acquire reliever Emilio Pagan from the Athletics. The Rangers will also receive international slot money.
The trade all but confirms that the Athletics will not be re-signing second baseman Jed Lowrie, who experienced a breakout season with the team in 2018. Lowrie, 34, slashed .267/.353/.448 while hitting a career-high 23 home runs and driving in 99 runs, which was also a career high. Lowrie’s excellent 2018 season likely raised his price tag too much for the Athletics, who will now try to fill the void that he will leave at the second base position.
Jurickson Profar is a strong contingency plan for the Athletics, as the 25-year-old infielder is comiThe @Athletics acquired second baseman and former top-five prospect Jurickson Profar from the @Rangers in a three-team trade that also featured the @RaysBaseball on Friday morning.Click To Tweetng off a breakout season of his own. Profar hit .254 last season with 20 home runs and 133 hits in 146 games played. The most important aspect of his 2018 season was the fact that he played in 146 games, the most he’s played in since he debuted back in 2012. Profar has struggled mightily with injuries throughout his young career, losing almost the entirety of his 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Fortunately, Profar seems to have successfully moved on from his injury history and has now become one of the best offensive utility players in baseball. He led the Rangers in doubles last season with 35, while also ranking third on the team with 54 walks drawn in 2018.
Profar’s ability to put the bat on the ball and get on base will greatly serve the Oakland Athletics. The team’s lineup is stocked with great power hitters such as Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Stephen Piscotty, all of whom hit more than 20 home runs in 2018. However, the flip side is that power hitters tend to strike out more often, and all four of those players listed struck out more than 100 times last season. Profar’s emerging plate discipline will help to counteract the high number of strikeouts which hampered a talented Oakland Athletics team from reaching its full potential last year.
The acquisition of Profar also allows the Athletics to save some money on their payroll. Rather than breaking out the checkbook for Jed Lowrie, the team will now have Profar under contract for just $1.05 million with two more years of team control still left on his current contract.
This move allows the Athletics to spend their money in other places for the remainder of this offseason, which they already seem poised to do as the team has been connected to free agent reliever Joakim Soria, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Soria now joins an already formidable Oakland bullpen, which helped the team reach the Wild Card play-in game last season.
On the Tampa Bay side of things, they will be receiving 27-year-old Emilio Pagan from the Athletics, as well as a prospect and the #38 pick in the 2019 draft from the Texas Rangers.
Pagan finished his 2018 campaign with a 4.35 ERA and a 63-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55 appearances with Oakland. His numbers are not overwhelming, but it is Pagan’s proficiency against right-handed hitters that makes him a strong fit for the Rays. He held right-handed hitters to a meager .196 batting average last season, while also recording a much more impressive 45-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio against them. Tampa Bay is surrounded by right-handed hitting studs in their respective division, having to frequently go up against the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez just to name a few. Pagan will serve as a nice addition to a Rays bullpen that is sure to be relied upon heavily once again in 2019.
The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, continue their rebuilding process by adding a host of young pitchers to their farm system, while also acquiring additional international slot money for them to sign free agents with. Jeff Passan provided some additional context on two of the prospects the Rangers received, both of whom seem poised to reach the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Giving up a young player like Profar who appears to finally be healthy and close to reaching his full potential was a hard decision for the Rangers to make, but it is clear that the organization has a much larger goal in mind. The Rangers hope that the prospects they have acquired this offseason will eventually bloom and propel the team back into contention in the American League West division in the next three to five years.
It will be interesting to see where Jed Lowrie eventually ends up, but regardless of that the Oakland Athletics have found their new second baseman. The sting of losing the Wild Card game in 2018 no doubt still sits with them, but the Athletics’ developing roster and strong bullpen will likely have them right back in contention for the 2019 season.