The Blue Jays had interest in signing Gio Urshela this offseason, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. It isn’t known if Urshela is still on the Jays’ radar, as Nicholson-Smith notes that Toronto’s recent deal with Isiah Kiner-Falefa might’ve already addressed the club’s apparent need in the utility infield market.
There hasn’t been much buzz about Urshela this winter, which isn’t surprising given the injury-shortened nature of the infielder’s season. Urshela didn’t play after suffering a pelvic fracture in June, ending his 2023 campaign after 62 games with the Angels. Based on the initial timeline given for Urshela’s recovery, he should be ready by the start of Spring Training, though there wasn’t enough time remaining for him to both rehab his injury and ramp up prior to the end of the Angels’ regular-season schedule.
Urshela hit .299/.329/.374 over 228 PA with Los Angeles while bouncing around the diamond at all four infield positions. Most of Urshela’s action came at third base in place of the injured Anthony Rendon, and the vast majority of Urshela’s playing time in his eight MLB seasons has been as a third baseman. The Outs Above Average metric hasn’t been a fan of Urshela’s third base glovework while the Defensive Runs Saved (+10) and UZR/150 (+3.9) metrics have given positive grades to 4620 1/3 big league innings at the hot corner.
Urshela has also shown some quality at the plate, particularly when he hit .310/.359/.523 over 650 PA for the Yankees during the 2019-20 seasons. This rather unexpected breakout earned Urshela a regular spot in New York’s infield mix, though a somewhat injury-marred down year made him expendable, and the Yankees dealt Urshela to the Twins as part of their big five-player swap in March 2022.
While Urshela didn’t quite reach his offensive heights from his time with the Yankees, he still had a solid bounce-back year, hitting .285/.338/.429 in 551 PA in Minnesota. Despite these good numbers, the Twins dealt Urshela to L.A. last offseason, in part due to Minnesota’s crowded infield picture and in part due to Urshela’s escalating arbitration salary (a projected $9.2MM, which ended up being $8.4MM after he lost his arb hearing in search of a $10MM salary).
If healthy, the 32-year-old Urshela could be at least a decent signing for a team in need of infield help, with some higher-ceiling potential if Urshela can even replicate his 2022 numbers, let alone his two big Yankees years. It makes sense that the Blue Jays would’ve had him on their target list given their infield needs this winter, plus Toronto is quite familiar with Urshela due to his past time in their organization — he briefly played for the Jays in 2018, appearing in 19 games at the Major League level.
The Blue Jays’ plans at third base may hinge on whether or not the team can re-sign Matt Chapman, but if Chapman departs, it isn’t out of the question that the Jays could still pursue Urshela even with Kiner-Falefa already in the fold. IKF’s lack of offensive pop makes him an imperfect answer as a starting third baseman, so if Kiner-Falefa is viewed more as a utility piece, Urshela’s higher-caliber bat and still-solid glove could make him a better option for a regular third base role.