Astros sign Yulieski Gurriel to five year deal
In what I would term as a surprising move, the Astros signed 32 year old Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a 5 year, $47.5 million contract yesterday, as reported by Jesse Sanchez from MLB.com.
My initial reaction to the signing was....why? They already have a future third baseman in Carlos Correa, their future shortstop is in AAA in the name of Alex Bregman and second base is being manning by one of the best hitters in baseball, Jose Altuve.
I was listening to an interview with Sanchez on MLB Network Radio last night on my drive home from work, and he indicated the Astros want to give him 50-60 at bats in the minors, and once he is called up, he will play third base. Reports after the signing indicate that Bregman could play left field, but left field is currently being manned by Colby Rasmus.
This also raises the question on where to play hot-hitting Luis Valbuena. And rookie A.J. Reed. And Evan Gattis. The Astros signing Gurriel presents them with a good problem every team wants.....too much talent.
So, Gurriel will get 50-60 at bats in the minors, so he could be up in the second week of August if he begins playing this weekend. In the meantime, it appears the Astros will hold off on calling up Bregman, assuming no one on the major league roster gets injured, and he COULD be trade bait. I doubt very much that they will deal Bregman, but we just saw the Red Sox trade their top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, for a pitcher who is coming off the best three months of his career, Drew Pomeranz.
An Astros lineup with Gurriel at third base, Bregman in left field, Carlos Gomez in center field, George Springer in right field, Rasmus and Gattis sharing the DH duties, with Reed at first base, Correa at shortstop and Altuve at second is a pretty dangerous lineup heading into the last two months of the season.
The Rockies could trade one of their top two outfielders, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez, between now and the trade deadline, and with them 7 games out of the wild card chase in the National League, it is becoming more and more likely that they will deal one of them. The performance of outfield prospect David Dahl this season could help ease the pain of dealing one of their best hitters. Dahl was recently promoted to Triple A Albuquerque, and all he has done is hit, and hit for power. Last night, he went 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBI and is now hitting .543-.579-1.114 with 5 home runs, 10 runs scored and 12 RBI in 38 plate appearances since his promotion. On the season, he is hitting .307-.389-.567 with 18 home runs, 24 doubles, 3 triples, 63 runs scored, 57 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 375 plate appearances across two levels in the minors. He is walking more and hitting for more power in his first healthy season of his career and he is doing it against advanced pitching. He should get the call up if the Rockies decide to deal Blackmon of Cargo, so grab him if your league allows you to stash prospects.
You should never count out Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Last night, Verlander dominated the Royals, limiting them to just one earned run on 4 hits, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts in 7 innings of work in the Tigers 4-2 win. The win moved his record to 9-6 with a 3.91 ERA, 3.75 FIP, a 1.12 WHIP and a 130-35 strikeout to walk rate in 124.1 innings. After seeing his strikeouts per nine dip below 7 K/9 in 2014 and below 8 K/9 last season, Verlander is back to striking out more than a batter per inning, and has maintained a walk rate below 3 BB/9. He gets hurt with the long ball, and isn’t the truly dominating ace he was a few years ago, but he still has some fire left in his belly and is helping fantasy owners as well.
Braves beat reporter Mark Bowman reported after last night’s game that the Braves will place closer Arodys Vizcaino on the disabled list with an oblique injury:
As is the case with most oblique injuries, Snit indicated he expects Vizcaino to go on the disabled list.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 16, 2016
The oblique injury could sideline him for more than the required 15 days, so the closer role should now be an open competition between Jim Johnson and Mauricio Cabrera. Johnson has the experience under his belt, but Cabrera has been called upon to save two games recently, and last night he struck out two batters in 1.1 innings. The injury obviously dampens the Braves chances of dealing Vizcaino by the deadline.
I've been meaning to write about Twins outfielder Byron Buxton as he has struggled to meet the high expectations placed upon him when he was a prospect. After going 0-2 last night, he is hitting .209-.255-.359 with a home run, 17 runs scored, 12 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 161 plate appearances. He has been up and down between the big leagues and Triple A over the last two seasons, and has proven that Triple A is no match for him, but the big leagues have been a different story. He is striking out at an alarming 37% rate this season and is hitting a ton of infield fly balls. It is probably too early to call him a bust, as he is still only 22 years of age, but the Twins might want to address their farm systems's ability to develop players, as Buxton is enormously talented and is totally overmatched in the big leagues.
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