As we noted over the weekend, when second baseman Ian Kinsler was activated from the disabled list, the Rangers decided to keep Jurickson Profar in the majors rather than send him back down to Triple-A Round Rock. The plan is to use him in a super-utility role moving forward, which will likely include some exposure to the outfield for the first time in his professional career. The transition is already underway.
Profar doesn’t figure to stick there in the long-term, but it’s a worthwhile experiment for the scuffling Rangers. The 20-year-old has never played the outfield — not even in Little League — but he’s certainly athletic enough to handle the position. If he gets comfortable, he could provide a nice upgrade over David Murphy, who just hasn’t been able to get it going this season.
Profar is batting .277/.330/.386 with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 games since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock last month.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.