Jurickson Profar making first career start in the outfield tonight

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Rangers manager Ron Washington first floated the possibility last month, but it’s finally happening.

Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram brings word that Jurickson Profar will make his first career start in left field in tonight’s game against the Astros. The 20-year-old has never played the outfield in pro ball, but the Rangers have had him work with outfield coach Gary Pettis over the past couple of weeks. While it’s a little surprising that they didn’t have him get any reps in the minors first, they are ready to embark on the experiment.

Profar is batting .259/.325/.380 with three home runs and nine RBI in 132 plate appearances at the major league level this season. It has been a challenge to find him playing time since Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list, so the Rangers are hopeful that adding the outfield to his resume will help justify keeping him with the big club. The team still views him as a middle infielder in the long-term.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is still locked up, thanks to a team option that will almost certainly be exercised, through 2020, and Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.