Blue Jays: What kind of trade value would Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have?
Looking at comparable trades
What’s one of the first places we should go when trying to figure out a player’s trade value? Most of the time that would be to look for a precedent in a previous deal, so I sifted through some of the swaps that have taken place through MLB over the past few years.
And let me tell you, there aren’t a lot of solid players in similar situations to Gurriel Jr.
I believe that the closest player I could find would be Andrew Benintendi of the Kansas City Royals, who was dealt there from Boston. It’s far from a perfect fit, but here’s why I think there is at least some level of comparison:
- He had 9.3 bWAR from 2017-2020 for an average of a little better than 2.3 (keeping in mind the shortened season in 2020 that messes with the average in general, so bare with me here). Gurriel Jr. was worth 2.7 bWAR in 2021, and has earned 5.8 bWAR from 2018-2021. If you break it down to a 162-game average, it’s actually pretty close.
- Benintendi is a much, much better defender, but for what it’s worth they are both primarily left fielders with Gold Glove nominations on their resumes (Benintendi won the LF award in 2021).
- Benintendi also had two years remaining on his contract when he was traded to Kansas City, although he certainly makes more than Gurriel Jr. He earned 6.6 million in 2021, and is set to make 9.6 million in 2022 before he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
- Gurriel Jr. is 28 years old and Benintendi won’t turn 28 until July, so the latter was younger at the time he was dealt.
As you can see it’s far from a perfect comparison, but this is a hard comp to find. That said, let’s look at what Benintendi brought back for the Red Sox. It was actually a three-team swap between the Royals, Red Sox, and New York Mets, with the Sox receiving Franchy Cordero from the Royals, and players to be named later.
Those players ended up being RHPs Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from the Kansas City Royals, and OF Freddy Valdez from the New York Mets. While neither of the pitchers were ranked among the Royals top 30 prospects, Valdez was as high as #14 in the Mets system. As for Cordero, it’s hard to say if he’ll ever find his potential at the highest level, but he certainly has power in that bat of his. It’s also worth noting that the Red Sox sent 2.8 million to Kansas City as part of the deal.
So getting back to Gurriel Jr., can we glean anything from all of this? I’m not going to pretend that it’s a close enough comparison to learn much, but I think we have to remember that corner outfielders aren’t as valued as they once were. At the end of the day, the return for Benintendi was pretty light when you consider that he was a 26 year old who already had a 4.8 bWAR season under his belt. Granted, he was coming off of a disappointing 2020 campaign where he was held to just 14 games, but still.
The main point I want to make with this whole comparison is that the return in value for someone like Gurriel Jr. may not be as high as many believe that it could be. I realize that the Blue Jays wouldn’t be looking for prospects in return for their starting left fielder in this case, but the “value” is something to pay attention to. As a corner outfielder in today’s big leagues, you have to be absolutely elite in order to stand out. Otherwise, teams seem to look for cheaper solutions on the free agent market, and in many cases there are still options available.