Marlins Have Been In Contact With Yuli Gurriel


The Marlins have been in contact with free agent first baseman Yuli Gurriel, according to Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald and Alejandro Villegas of 5 Reasons Sports.

Gurriel, 39 in June, has spent his entire MLB career with the Astros thus far. He signed with them out of Cuba in 2016, a five-year deal that covered the 2016-2020 period. After a brief showing in the first year of that deal, Gurriel established himself as an above-average regular in the three subsequent seasons. From 2017 through 2019, he walked in just 4.7% of his trips to the plate but he also only struck out 10.9% of the time. He hit 62 home runs and produced an overall batting line of .296/.333/.486. His 119 wRC+ in that time indicates he was 19% better than league average.

The past three years have been far less consistent, however. Gurriel slumped badly in the shortened 2020 season, hitting just .232/.274/.384 for a wRC+ of 76. Nonetheless, the Astros had enough faith in him that they gave him a one-year extension with a club option for 2022. He bounced back in a huge way, winning the American League batting title in 2021 by hitting .319 and producing a 132 wRC+. The club triggered their club option for 2022 but saw Gurriel slump again, hitting .242/.288/.360, 86 wRC+, though he did catch fire in the postseason and hit .347/.360/.490. His market has been quiet so far this offseason, with the only reported interest coming from the Astros, though that was before they signed José Abreu.

The Fish don’t strictly need to add a first baseman since they already have Garrett Cooper lined up for that position. He’s been an above-average hitter in each of the past four seasons but is frequently injured, having yet to reach 120 games in any season of his career. Acquiring Gurriel would give them some extra cover or allow the club to monitor the workloads of the two players. Both players are right-handed but Cooper has reverse splits, meaning some platooning is possible. He has a 119 wRC+ against righties for his career but a 113 against lefties. It was even more pronounced in 2022, with a 79 against southpaws and a 125 otherwise.

There’s also the possibility of the duo taking some time at designated hitter, though that it somewhat complicated by the presence of Jorge Soler. The outfielder missed significant time in 2022 due to back spasms and reports have indicated he’ll likely get the bulk of his playing time in the DH slot next year.

All this makes Gurriel a slightly awkward fit on the roster but his inconsistent track record in recent years and advancing age probably mean he won’t cost much. That surely makes him appealing to a fairly low-spending Marlins club. The payroll is currently around $103MM, per the calculations of Roster Resource. That’s fairly modest by MLB standards but the club has only once gone higher than that, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, which was back in 2017 under the previous ownership group. Last year, they opened the season with just $79MM on the books.

Whatever the cost, adding Gurriel would be another attempt for the club to add some more offense to its tepid lineup, which produced a wRC+ of 88 last year, placing them 25th out of the 30 teams in the league. They’ve already signed Jean Segura as part of that effort and have also been trying to trade from their rotation surplus for quite some time, though a deal still hasn’t come together.

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