Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Prior to Galvis’ signing, it was widely assumed that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would take over as the starting shortstop next season, and at least given an opportunity to show whether or not he belongs at the position long term. He’s an athletic defender with a rocket arm, so he could certainly be an asset at shortstop even if he didn’t flourish there last season in a relatively small sample size.
He made 40 starts (46 appearances) there at the big league level last year, and 20 starts (24 appearances) at second base. There’s no doubt that he was better at second, but when you consider his defensive skillset he seems like he should be utilized somewhere else, especially where his arm can shine.
Once Diaz and Tulowitzki were out of the picture it looked like Gurriel Jr. had a clear path to as many starts at short as he could handle. However, now there’s a good chance that he’ll share the position with Galvis, who has been a mainstay for the Padres and the Phillies over the past two seasons. In fact, last year he started every single day, with 157 games at shortstop and other five at second, and in 2017 he started 155 games at short. He’s also a plus defender at the position, rating as a 1.6 dWAR according to baseball reference.
I have no doubt that Galvis will see a reduced number of starts this season in Toronto, but if Ross Atkins was able to convince him to come North over the offers or interest from nearly a dozen other teams then he must have said something to the new acquisition’s liking. I have no idea how that conversation went, but my guess is it results in less starts at shortstop for Gurriel Jr. than we thought he’d get a week ago, and personally I’ll be a little disappointed if that’s the case.
Gurriel Jr. will definitely get to start on a regular basis, and it’s possible that we see him all over the diamond including at second base as we witnessed last year, and also at positions like third base, or maybe even in the corner outfield. He was once viewed as a potential super-utility type of player, and with Galvis’ arrival it’s possible the Blue Jays may now experiment with the idea a little more.
None of this is for certain of course, but what we do know is that the path to shortstop is less clear for Gurriel Jr. than it was a few days ago.