The Blue Jays, allegedly, could be listening to trade offers for starting left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr according to Scott Mitchell of TSN. The question is do the Blue Jays want to move one of their best hitters and outfielders?
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who spent the majority of 2019 on the disabled list, currently has four years remaining with roughly 17.7 million dollars owing to him, which another potential year of arbitration eligibility after that.
He first impressed when he was called up in 2018 and played 65 games in the second half of the season. In that time, he hit 11 home runs while batting .281 and looked to be at minimum an average defender.
He came into 2019 with an almost secure spot for the season, but after 13 games he had no home runs, was batting .175 and had committed two errors in just 24 chances at second base. Gurriel Jr. was sent to the minors and was moved to the outfield. He was recalled after almost six weeks with a new confidence and above average ability in the outfield. In 60 games he never made an error and threw out nine base runners from left field. Despite going down with an injury and missing most of the second half of the season, he still hit 20 home runs and while having a .277 average in just 84 games.
Monday afternoon Scott Mitchell tweeted that “(Blue Jays) could be open to moving Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this winter, especially if it brings the right rotation arm back”. Ross Atkins would be a failure at his job if he ever hung up the phone on any opposing GM inquiring about any player on his team, but it would have to be a knock me over offer to be trading Gurriel Jr.
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An area of complete weakness within the Blue Jays organization is in the outfield, and an area of strength is the amount of high end pitching prospects within the Toronto system (albeit, in the lower levels). Currently the Jays are desperately trying to find a centre fielder to secure the outfield and are not able to fill it within. Losing Gurriel Jr. would add another spot as the options ready to step into that position aren’t exactly inspiring. The options are limited to Derek Fisher or Teoscar Hernandez, who are both below average players. Gurriel has shown above average skills in left field, has 35+ home run potential and could flirt with .300 average.
Putting Lourdes Gurriel Jr in the top of the order for the start of the season with Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr lengthens the line-up. While I don’t think we will ever see a line-up like WAMCO from 1993, those four could make the Blue Jays very competitive for years to come.
Currently the 2020 rotation looks like it would be something like Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker (we assume) and Trent Thornton, with several young arms competing for the last two spots. This rotation does not look appetizing and needs some work to get better, however if you are to trade Gurriel Jr., it would be have to be a better starter than any of those pitchers with years of control left.
Scott Mitchell was quick to respond to his tweet stating the key word in his tweet was “could”, which as I stated Atkins would not be doing his job properly if he wasn’t listening to any offer on any player. The question is if you were in Atkins’ seat, what would you need to move Gurriel Jr.? I would need a top two starter.