The Houston Astros shocked many on Friday when they announced the signing of Yulieski Gurriel.
There’s a lot of information to swallow with this signing, but it’s important to note one thing first; his name. There’s been a lot of different variations in regards to the spelling of his last name, but I think it’s safe to go with the way the Astros have spelled it.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the player himself.
Yulieski Gurriel signed a five-year, $47.5 million with the Houston Astros, taking less money to join this team. It’s really a 4.5-year deal, with free agency coming in the winter of 2020 (or potentially a qualifying offer).
On the field, Gurriel has dominated competition his entire career. The 32-year old has hit .335/.417/.580 with 250 homers and 121 steals in Cuba and Japan over 15 years. Though older than most Cuban when defecting, Gurriel is still expected to help the Astros in a big way over the length of his contract.
The Astros will send Gurriel to their spring training facility in Florida before sending him to the Minors for a few weeks. It’s expected that the Astros will call him up in about three weeks.
Climbing Tal's Hill
Once with the Astros, manager A.J. Hinch will have plenty of flexibility to tinker with his lineup. Adding Gurriel means new positions and playing time for some Astros. Primary third baseman Luis Valbuena will likely shift to first base. A.J. Reed and Marwin Gonzalez will end up in and out of the lineup, along with Evan Gattis when he’s not catching.
Along with Gurriel the Astros are expected to call up Alex Bregman at some point soon. Adding Bregman and Gurriel to this lineup in the middle of the summer should bring a big punch to the offense. But where they will play defensively will be interesting.
Both Gurriel and Bregman could play third base. Both are above average defenders at the position. The Astros worked out Gurriel in the outfield and we know the Astros could use a platoon for Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez as well. If Gurriel could play left field against lefties, the Astros lineup would already improve tremendously.
Another important detail about this signing has to do with Gurriel’s brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The 22-year old has said he’d like to play with his brother and if he signs with a team after October 19th (his 23rd birthday), the team signing him won’t be constrained by the international spending limit and would not be penalized. Lourdes is another top Cuban prospect so the Astros could be getting a huge two-for-one deal on the Cuban brothers.
The Astros will figure it all out over the next few weeks. It wouldn’t shock me to see Gurriel at third base and the outfield over the next few weeks in the Minors. We should also watch where Bregman plays during that same time to maybe get a hint as to what the Astros are thinking.
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