The saga of Jurickson Profar has been well-chronicled here. Former top prospect, missed two years due to shoulder injuries, back on the map as a premiere talent, and struggling to get playing time from his manager. You probably know all this by now.
Yesterday, Jurickson began getting some additional work in the outfield, a spot he hadn't played since 2013, and a place the Rangers had previously been reluctant to work a player coming back from two years off due to shoulder issues.
The thought was that changing his arm angle might not be the best idea for a guy getting used to simply playing baseball again at his natural position. Of course, that mostly went out the window when Profar's late-May call-up turned into a show of talent and Texas needed to find places to play him just to get his bat in the lineup. He's seen time at SS, 2B, 3B, and even 1B. So at this point, if he can play the outfield, great! And Profar seems to agree.
I'm not clear on the exact question he was asked, but it was something to the effect of, "Are you OK with learning another new position?" The answer?
"I'm willing to do anything to play right now. I'm OK with this for now, but for next year I think I'm going to play shortstop. I want to be a shortstop. If my name is out there, it means I'm playing very well, so I'm going to be happy about that. The rest just is what it is."
Those quotes are apparently not sitting well among some Rangers fans, many who are crying foul. That has led for calls for him to be traded and questioning his loyalty to his team. And I think those people are wrong.
You see, Jurickson Profar is a professional baseball player. He has been since the moment the Rangers signed him at 16 years old for a $1.55 million signing bonus. Baseball is who he is and what he does. If, for some unfortunate reason, he became unable to play baseball tomorrow, there's probably not a whole lot he can fall back on. And I'm reminded of a tweet from May that shed some light on the kind of money most professional baseball players actually make.
That's not a whole lot, and so it's not hard to see why Profar, making significantly more in 2016 than a minor league player at $605,000 but less than the life-changing money he surely will deservedly command in the future, wants to stick somewhere. He wants what all of us want from our jobs: stability, a good environment, and reassurance that if he does his job well, he'll keep that job.
Jurickson is intensely confident in his abilities, and why not? He's been performing better than could be expected while not having a defined position. And if we're OK with Rougned Odor being brash, confident, and a little cocky, then why would we not also be OK with Jurickson Profar answering a question honestly?
He's a smart guy. He knows the Rangers have Odor and Elvis Andrus. That Adrian Beltre is in Texas through 2018. He also probably realizes that his maximum value isn't at 1B or in the outfield. It's as a middle infielder.
Something's got to give. Or, in this case, someone. And barring the unfortunate scenario in which an injury puts him in a position to maximize his value, Jurickson Profar knows someone will end up traded to make this thing work.
So, for now, he'll gladly play wherever the Rangers ask him to in order to earn playing time. He's at least forced their hand that much. The rest is up to the front office, and an honest Jurickson Profar knows that somehow, some way, he'll likely be playing his natural position sooner rather than later.
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