When I wrote earlier today about Shi Davidi mentioning how teams around the league are kicking tires on Toronto’s young crop of catchers, I briefly mentioned how he cryptically brought up Lourdes Gurriel’s name in the discussion.
The interesting part here comes in the third paragraph, in which Davidi explicitly says that Toronto’s young catchers (I imagine this would be Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, but it could also involve names like Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk in the minors) are garnering trade interest around the league. This comes after he offers a hypothetical situation in which the Jays trade Lourdes Gurriel after his strong-but-injury-shortened season in order to fill another position of need. I’m not sure there are any legs to the Gurriel thing beyond Davidi just offering an example, but the fact he suggests it and then says the young catchers are also garnering interest is somewhat interesting.
I figured there might be something to it, but really wanted to avoid being so desperate for off-season content that I wrote a post on the usage of the word also. Anyways, Scott Mitchell reported on Twitter today that Gurriel, in fact, is out there in trade conversations for quality pitching.
Here’s an interesting one: Heard from multiple people lately #BlueJays could be open to moving Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this winter, especially if it brings the right rotation arm back.
Signed through 2023 and heading into his age-26 season, the contract is nice and so is the bat.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) November 11, 2019
Of course, Mitchell is just reporting that the Jays could be open to moving Gurriel. It doesn’t mean that they’re actively shopping him or that anybody has made an offer, but it suggests that the front office is simply willing to listen to see if the right offer comes around. I mean, this shouldn’t be overly surprising. The only untouchables on the roster are Bo and Vlad, and, likely Nate Pearson. If the right offer comes for another good young player like Gurriel, Cavan Biggio, or Danny Jansen, the Jays would surely pull the trigger.
The Jays currently have a logjam in their outfield. I wouldn’t exactly call it an organizational strength like their catching depth is, but there are a lot of names in the picture and only so many spots. That said, Gurriel probably is the best name they have in that crowded picture.
After an ugly start to the season, both at the plate and on the field, Gurriel was sent down to Triple-A to rebuild his confidence. The demotion involved a change of position, as Gurriel shifted from playing mostly second base to playing in left field. When Gurriel got called back up, not only did we see a much, much better player at the plate, we also saw the surprising emergence of a very good defensive left fielder.
Gurriel had an ugly .175/.250/.275 slash line when he was demoted on April 14, but when he came back up, he caught fire and finished the season with a very good .277/.327/.541 line. Offence was never really the issue with Gurriel’s game, though. I think we all knew his bat would come around and he would become a productive hitter, the big surprise here was how good he was in left. Gurriel had a whopping nine outfield assists in just 63 games in left, which was a far cry from the guy who looked completely lost playing at second.
In the outfield mix next year are Gurriel, Randal Grichuk (and his puzzling long-term contract), Teoscar Hernandez (a guy who’s proved he really shouldn’t be playing out there), Derek Fisher (a guy who the organization seems to absolutely love), Billy McKinney, Anthony Alford, and Jonathan Davis. When I talked about the outfield a while back, I figured Hernandez would move to playing mostly DH, we would see a bunch of Fisher in right, Grichuk would be forced to play centre, and Gurriel would be in left.
If the Jays were to pull the trigger on a Gurriel deal for a pitcher too good to pass up, I assume the plan would be to replace his outfield spot in free agency. This could involve signing a big corner outfield bat or signing a centre fielder that pushes Grichuk to the corner. Regardless, if Gurriel is going out, another outfielder has to be coming in. Going into 2020 with an outfield of Grichuk, Hernandez, and Fisher would be… not ideal.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of moving Gurriel right now. His contract is team-friendly and he appears to be a part of the solution long-term. I mean, his breakout season in 2019 came with a small sample size, but, man, he looked damn good in those 63 games. Anybody can be moved for the right return, but the return for Gurriel would have to be substantial to be worthwhile. He looked like a blossoming All-Star last year.