By now most of you guys know my thoughts on Profar. I see him as a future above average offensive player with the tools to be an effective defensive 3B or 2B if he’s able to clean up his inconsistent footwork. That boils down to a 3-4 win player with upside for more if he continues to improve his ability to lay off pitches out of the zone, where he ends up making a significant amount of weak contact.
Unfortunately, even if his upside is ultimately a year or two of all-star level production, that production comes at a time where the Rangers don’t expect strong odds of competition in the AL West. They are in rebuild mode and Profar only has two seasons of control left. We can’t possibly know the behind-the-scenes extension talks, of which I’m sure there was at least contact, but Profar is a Boras client and Boras is very good at his job. The Rangers wouldn’t receive a team very friendly extension unless Profar expressed the desire to stay with the Rangers no matter what.
With that in mind, we can turn to the prospects as the Rangers received Brock Burke, Eli White, Kyle Bird, Yoel Espinal, and international slot money. The truly significant piece here is Burke, whom I missed in AA this season as he never made it to Frisco, but know a bit by reputation and video.
The easiest comparison to make for Burke’s skill-set is Taylor Hearn. The left handed 6’4 and filled out Burke sits in the low-mid 90s with the fastball and can touch 97. The pitch has arm-side action, especially when he locates it to his arm-side of the plate. Burke’s primary secondary is an 84-85 breaking ball that flashes plus glove-side break and some dive when located below the zone. His feel for locating the slider is inconsistent and he regularly leaves the pitch up, which doesn’t get punished in AA like it would in the MLB. He throws a below average 85 MPH changeup that has fringy dive and arm-side action. Burke’s fastball command is currently below average and it’s hard to project much more due to an already clean arm and delivery and a strong athletic build. Without signficant improvement to the command and changeup, it’s hard to see Burke sticking in an MLB rotation although his lower-end outcome is theoretically high as he could go multiple innings in a relief appearance. With strong improvements to command and the changeup, he has a realistic shot to carve out a role as a middle of the rotation starter.
Eli White is a 24 year old utility prospect who I saw in Frisco many times in 2018. White currently has the tools to be close to an average SS while having the experience to play multiple other positions at an MLB level as well. White has had the quickness, plus bat speed, and coordination for an above average hit tool, but his below average raw power and trouble recognizing spin held his offensive performances in the minors back despite being able to slap line drives around the field. This year he was improved in the approach and spin recognition regard as he was fairly selective this season in the Texas League. At 24, he’s unlikely to show much more power even though the frame has room for it so the offensive upside is likely limited. Still, it’s possible that with continued improvement with selection and spin recognition, he could provide value from the bench at some point. Any additional strength or power would be a tremendous help to his profile and would improve his range of outcomes significantly.
The other two pieces are purely relief prospects that I know less about. Bird is a lefty who sits in the low-mid 90s and throws a breaking ball that flashes plus or better and a changeup that is consistently average. His command is below average and that will likely limit him to a middle reliever role despite quality secondaries.
Espinal is a traditional and pure hard throwing fastball/slider righty with a 95-98 fastball and a plus hard 85-86 slider. He delivers from something between a cross-fire and a 3-quarters delivery and it’s hard to see him improving his below average command. He could have a shot at a middle reliever role down the road for the Rangers.
In a vacuum, this return seems to be a pretty light return for two years of a player I view as someone who could provide potential impact with relatively minor adjustments. The odds at significant potential impact are almost all with one player in the return in Burke, and his significant impact potential is more likely to come out of the bullpen rather than from the rotation.
That being said, context is important. If the Rangers didn’t view an extension as something feasible to pursue or, sees this return as more significant that I am able to, or doesn’t view Profar as a player worth pursing as a core piece of the future; then this trade looks different. I’m personally disappointed that this is how Profar’s journey with the Rangers is going to end and barring injury I will project him to provide significant value to the A’s.
I look forward to getting my eyes on Burke in what is starting to look like a stacked AA rotation for the Roughriders in 2019.
UPDATE: After writing this, TR Tweeted that the Rangers did try and offer a contract extension, but were not able to progress talks far enough to justify waiting.