The Toronto Blue Jays may need to dip into their big league talent to find improvements. Does that mean Lourdes is a goner?
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The Toronto Blue Jays are going to be a fun team to watch for the next few seasons, but that is particularly true this winter. CBA aside, the Blue Jays should be tied to a lot of big names and the subject of much speculation, which by itself is annoying, but when paired with the reality that they may actually land these big names, it is exciting. But, with all of that chatter comes the inevitable discussion of what pieces the Blue Jays have to offer via trade. Names like Alejandro Kirk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.come up, even if Randal Grichuk would be the preferred piece moved, Gurriel is an interesting subject of conversation.
Obviously, to get something in a trade, the Blue Jays will have to give up something of value. It’s not like they are the Yankees who can land Giancarlo Stanton for next to nothing. The very nature of Gurriel’s deal makes him a rather interesting potential trade chip. After signing him to a 7yr/$22M deal, the Blue Jays got themselves a low risk, high reward player. He has a very high ceiling and we’ve seen flashes of that already. His offense is as good as anyone when he’s ‘on’ and his outfield defense has improved to the point where he is seemingly a perennial Gold Glove candidate in left field (that is a sentence I still can’t believe I’m writing). So, the fact that Toronto is paying him just $5M in 2022 is massive. They do not have to trade him, but it is easy to see why other teams might want him.
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Recently, Ben Nicholson-Smith revealed a correction about Gurriel’s contract that might make him a little less attractive to other teams:
One administrative note of significance to #BlueJays. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is on track to hit free agency after the 2023 season (not after 2024 as many had assumed). He'll have 5+ years of service after 2023 but would still be eligible based on the deal he signed with Jays.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 11, 2021
One fewer year of control would certainly impact trade discussions. It is interesting that Spotrac has him hitting free agency in 2025 and that is what most of us thought until BNS shared the correct info. It is interesting that it comes out now when Gurriel has been with the club for a few years already. Like, why now? Perhaps it is simply because Gurriel is being talked about frequently in trade talks. It could also be because Toronto is finding trading him less easy than they thought. Either way, this news certainly would impact potential suitors.
Andrew Stoeten explains the situation rather well:
Not a lot of rebuilding teams are going to want a guy, cheap as his deal may be, who is only under contract for two more years. Teams that are trying to shed money but remain competitive? Sure. But that definitely limits his market. Might just have to keep him around. https://t.co/NHjKezbLXG
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) November 11, 2021
The tidbit of info certainly does eliminate some teams from the discussion. Let’s use a rebuilding team like the Orioles. Even if they had a player the Blue Jays were after, the situation the O’s find themselves in means they won’t be competitive in the next 2 or 3 seasons, so Lourdes does nothing for them. There are teams out there that could be looking to shed some salary, but not necessarily rebuilding. Those are fewer, of course.
Fewer as they may be, there would certainly be a team out there that would love to have Lourdes on their roster. That is also true of fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. Gurriel has grabbed the love of quite a few out there. Those fans who have grown fond of him would point to the fact that it is difficult to see how trading away Gurriel makes the Blue Jays a better team in 2022. Sure, an effective starter could be brought in, but a hole gets created in the outfield. Right now, Teoscar Hernandez, George Springer, Gurriel and Grichuk make up the 4 outfielders. As a group, they are solid. Remove Gurriel from that mix and things look much different, both offensively and defensively. Right now, the outfield doesn’t really need any attention. Trading Gurriel would change that.
The conversation around how to improve the Blue Jays in 2022 is a fascinating one given that there are so many ways it can be done. Sure, the needs are obvious: pitching, pitching and third base, but that leaves a good many scenarios available. One (maybe more) of which involves trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr.in a package for a significant player. It is interesting that we are finding out an important details of his contract years after it was signed and it could be a result of the conversations happening behind the scenes in MLB front offices. Or, it could be a sign that Gurriel is going nowhere.
I know at least one JFtC writer who would be rather upset if Gurriel were dealt. Personally, I don’t feel as strongly, but I am rather fascinated by the whole discussion. Gurriel has great value, particularly when he is living up to his talent. His contract value makes him even more so. The expiry of said contract may alter trade discussions, or it might halt them all together. Time will tell.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.