SATURDAY: The Jays have officially announced the deal.
FRIDAY: The Blue Jays have agreed to a multi-year contract with Cuban infield prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr., reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Gurriel, the younger brother of Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, is considered one of the top available international prospects and will receive a seven-year, $22MM contract from the Jays, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
That $22MM figure may seem like a relative bargain given Gurriel’s upside, but it’s worth noting that many Major League contracts of this nature allow the player in question to opt into arbitration once he is eligible (e.g. Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias). It’s not clear if Gurriel obtained that right, but if he did, then the $22MM serves as a floor for what he’ll earn over the life of this deal, but he’d ultimately have the potential to earn quite a bit more when all is said and done.
Gurriel, a Wasserman client, was declared a free agent several months ago but waited to sign until after the completion of his 23rd birthday in order to be exempt from international spending limitations. Unlike his older brother, he’ll require some more time in the minor leagues before surfacing at the big league level. Gurriel is a career .277/.362/.426 hitter in Cuba and slashed an outstanding .344/.407/.560 in 245 plate appearances in his final season in Cuba — the 2015-16 campaign.
About 60 to 70 scouts representing more than 20 teams turned out at a showcase for Gurriel last month, during which he worked out at both shortstop and center field (though he’s also capable of playing second base and third base as well). He ran a 6.65 in the 60-yard dash and drew positive reviews on his physique and strong arm, though some scouts felt he needed more work against live pitching. Baseball America’s Ben Badler has penned scouting reports on Gurriel in the past (subscription required and recommended), giving praise to his bat speed, quality approach at the plate and strike zone management skills. Per Badler, Gurriel could eventually emerge as a high-OBP player with enough pop to hit 20-plus homers in a season.
Exactly where Gurriel fits into the Jays’ long-term plans remains to be seen. The Jays have shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, second baseman Devon Travis and center fielder Kevin Pillar all under club control through 2020, though Gurriel could eventually crack into the Majors in the corner outfield or in a super-utility role, spelling all three of the aforementioned players while also serving as an insurance policy for the injury-prone Tulowitzki and Travis.