Houston Astros: Yuli Gurriel’s new extension is absolutely essential to team

Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

To keep the offense whole, the Houston Astros ink in Yuli Gurriel for a nice chunk of dough for the 2020 season.  It’s welcome news for sure!

Well Houston Astros fans, you can rejoice with the pineapple hats for at least one more season. The Houston Chronicle, along with many other sources, have now confirmed that first baseman, Yuli Gurriel has been signed to a one-year, $8.3 million extension for the 2020 season.

Additionally, La Pina will receive an additional quarter of a million dollars in incentive bonuses. That is, of course, conditional on what kind of a season Gurriel will have in 2020. Frankly, with the way he has been playing lately, we can continue to expect great things from him.

I wrote back in the middle of the season making the case for Gurriel to be given MVP consideration. Granted, it was a long-shot proposal, given the outcome of this year’s award that many will argue should have belonged to Alex Bregman. But that’s another story for a different time.

Let’s get back to Yuli and the phenomenal year he had in 2019. Despite the World Series loss by the Houston Astros to the Washington Nationals in Game 7, Gurriel was very much a player that kept the team alive throughout the October run. Of course, his talent and contributions started way before that.

Living in a pineapple above the sea

Among the first basemen in the American League, Gurriel placed in the Top 5 among said players in nearly every offensive category. Here are some of the highlights of that:

  1. Average – .298 (1st)
  2. OPS – .884 (3rd)
  3. Total RBI – 104 (2nd)
  4. XBH – 73 (1st)

As if that wasn’t enough, Gurriel continued this success throughout the postseason. Having the most at-bats of any first baseman to play in October allowed for La Pina to continue his high rankings with the bat. Most notably, ranking 3rd in overall OPS and leading the pack in extra-base hits (XBH).

Additionally, he has also been holding down first base with a very solid glove defensively. Posting

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an overall fielding percentage of .996 kept him at the top of the American League, along with his range factor of 7.28 in 2019. While he may not have taken home to Gold Glove at the position, Gurriel is certainly making his talents well known on both sides of the ball.

There is another thing of note in his extension. Gurriel was heading into arbitration years as of this winter. To avoid any potential hearings on his salary, the Houston Astros added one other clause to this new contract. Instead of having to go through any more possible years of arbitration, Gurriel will be allowed to declare himself a free agent after 2020, if he so chooses.

This new ability is one that hasn’t been included with arbitration-eligible players in the past. And if it has, it is certainly a very big rarity. Nevertheless, coming to this mutual understanding is a development that will be beneficial for both parties involved. That being both Gurriel and the Houston Astros.

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Overall, this extension not only made sense but is one that is gonna pay off in the long run. Frankly, Gurriel was a player they needed to keep around. Here’s hoping they may be able to keep him beyond 2020 as well.