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Blue Jays: What kind of trade value would Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have?

Sep 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 13, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) tosses his bat after hitting an RBI single against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

His bargain contract has changed a bit

Late last season, something happened that I can’t remember ever taking place with the Blue Jays before, or even with another player around the league. Due to a miscalculation on some prominent websites that cover MLB contracts, and a widespread misunderstanding, Gurriel Jr’s contract control suddenly went from three years remaining down to two. Naturally this was a pretty significant development.

Instead of having Gurriel Jr. under contract through the 2024 season, the Blue Jays now have to deal with the reality that he’ll be a free agent after the 2023 campaign. That’s an extra bummer because fellow corner outfielder Teoscar Hernandez will be a free agent at the same time, and it’s doubtful that the Jays will be able to retain both, or possibly either of them depending on the other roster decisions they make.

The good news for the Blue Jays is that Gurriel Jr. still comes at a bargain rate for those remaining two years. Assuming it’s correct, according to Spotrac.com he’ll receive 4.5 million in 2022, and a modest raise to 5.4 million in 2023. For a player his potential output, that’s a massive bargain. Gurriel Jr. earned 2.7 bWAR in 2022, so he far outperformed his 3.5 million dollar contract last season.

As far as his trade value, losing that extra year of contract control certainly hurts. For example, let’s say he was being offered as part of a hypothetical package for Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Guardians. It actually would make sense if Cleveland was interested in the corner outfielder, as that’s been an area of weakness in their organization for several years now. Having said that, they’re probably facing a bit of a rebuild, especially if they decide to deal Ramirez, so finding a longer term option than just two years remaining on Gurriel Jr. would likely be preferred.

There’s no doubt that his bargain contract would endear him to more teams on the trade market, but losing that third year really stings. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it might make the difference in whether it makes sense to trade him or not.

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