Amid adding three quality starting pitchers and one of Korea's best ballplayers, the Padres still had a couple of things to check off their to-do list. They can mow remove "add a quality bench piece," as well.
The Friars have agreed to a contract with Jurickson Profar for a reported three years and $21 million. Profar's first year in San Diego was eye-opening, for the club and for him.
General manager A.J. Preller acquired Profar last off-season in a trade with the A's for catching prospect Austin Allen hoping the former top prospect in baseball could put his injury troubles behind him and be the every day starting 2nd baseman.
Profar got off to a slow start, batting just .193 at the season's halfway point while rookie Jake Cronenworth took most of the reps on the infield. But, when Tommy Pham broke a bone in his hand Jurickson moved to left field, a position he'd never played full-time. He took to it remarkably fast.
The 27-year-old found his swing, hitting .381 with an .880 OPS in September to help the Padres to their first playoff spot since 2006. He also played five different positions defensively, showing a selflessness and willing to help the team that makes him an extremely valuable commodity.
Profar is also one of the most popular players in the clubhouse and a longtime friend of shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (both are from the Dominican Republic). His return gives the Padres one of the deepest rosters in baseball, which begs the question: with all eight offensive starters back, plus the addition of Ha-Seong Kim, where will the Padres find at-bats for Profar?
The 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers provided a blueprint for that. They had players on the bench like Kike Hernandez and A.J. Pollock who could start for other clubs but manager Dave Roberts used that depth to move players all over the field and win a World Series. Expect Jayce Tingler to do the same thing with San Diego's lineups in 2021.
This reunion likely ends the possibility of Valhalla High School alum Greg Garcia returning for a 3rd season with his home town team. On a new episode of the OnFriar Podcast, Greg talked with NBC 7's Derek Togerson and Darnay Tripp about his off-season, playing for the Padres, what San Diego means to him, and how he's doing some very unique training during a COVID-19 off-season: