After seven seasons with the Astros, Gurriel spent the 2023 season with Miami. The Marlins inked him to a minor league pact late in the 2022-23 offseason, and Gurriel won a roster spot in spring training. He got out to a strong start, hitting .291/.350/.440 through his first 157 trips to the plate. However, Gurriel’s bat went cold in mid-June and never really recovered. Over his final 172 plate appearances, he slashed just .204/.262/.287 with only one home run.
That marked the second straight lackluster season at the plate for the now-39-year-old Gurriel, who posted a .242/.288/.360 output in his final season as an Astro. As recently as 2022, he’d turned in a robust .319/.383/.462 slash with 15 home runs, but Gurriel’s age, slow finish and back-to-back shaky seasons seem likely to limit him to another minor league deal — assuming he indeed plans to continue playing for what would be a ninth MLB season.
It’s not clear which clubs have shown interest in the Cuban-born veteran, though a few speculative landing spots come to mind. The Twins had interest in Gurriel last winter, and president of baseball operations Derek Falvey suggested earlier this winter that he could look to bring in a first base option from outside the organization. The D-backs have been tied to several right-handed-hitting DH options, and Gurriel’s younger brother of course re-signed in Arizona earlier this winter. The Mariners have been linked to more expensive righty-swinging DH options but are working with some known financial restrictions. The Guardians gravitate toward low-strikeout hitters like Gurriel (career 11.4%) and have a very left-handed lineup. Gurriel could be a right-handed addition to a first base/DH mix that includes lefties Josh Naylor and top prospect Kyle Manzardo.
On a minor league deal, there’s any number of fits that could be drawn up for Gurriel, who carries a career .281/.326/.440 batting line in 3634 plate appearances. He’s just two home runs shy of 100 for his career and is 61 hits away from 1000, so there are some round numbers in his future if he can latch on with another big league team. Gurriel, of course, didn’t make his MLB debut until age 32. He’d previously starred in his native Cuba since making his pro debut as a 17-year-old back in 2001. Gurriel is one of the most prolific hitters in the history of the Cuban National Series, evidenced by a career .320/.425/.599 batting line in nearly 5300 plate appearances in his home country’s top league.