Is it worth it?
The big question about whether or not to trade Lourdes Gurriel Jr. comes down to whether it’s worth it to do so.
Obviously that depends on the player that the Blue Jays are targeting, and if that the potential trade partner has interest in someone like Gurriel Jr. In the previously mentioned hypothetical with Cleveland, I could see the Guardians having at least some interest. That said, Gurriel Jr. would be just a small piece of the puzzle in that kind of deal.
In Jim Bowden’s recent article at the Athletic (subscription required), he presents a potential package that the Blue Jays could offer, although I’m not sure if it would be enough. His idea was an offer of Jordan Groshans, Otto Lopez, and last year’s first round pick Gunnar Hogland. If that would get it done then I think the Blue Jays would agree to the swap as fast as they possibly could, but I saw several fans on social media suggesting that the Jays should throw Gurriel Jr. in the offer in one form or another.
I can understand the rationale, especially because there are still several outfielders available on the free agent market, but I think there are a few important points to consider. One, Gurriel Jr. is on a bargain deal, and his low salary allows the Blue Jays to spend money in another area.
Secondly, we saw what kind of value Gurriel Jr. can bring to the table when he’s playing his best baseball, and his second half of 2021 was extremely encouraging. It was keyed by a tweak in his batting approach, and for those that remember what a tweak did for Jose Bautista, I’m not so sure the Blue Jays should be rushing Gurriel Jr. out of town. I’m not suggesting he’s going to lead the league in home runs, but he was a very dangerous hitter after the All-Star break, and he legitimately carried the offence at times.
Third, and maybe the most important point, is that Gurriel Jr. is clearly part of a tightly-knit group of players in Toronto these days. In particular it looks like he has a pretty special bond with franchise cornerstone Vladimir Guerrero Jr., as the two are frequently seen laughing it up on the bench with others like Teoscar Hernandez and Santiago Espinal. Those relationships are important for the energy in the clubhouse, especially over the course of a long 162 game season. It’s also important to keep a player like Guerrero Jr. happy, in particular if you intend to try and sign him to a long-term extension. Is trading one of his best friends the best way to do that? I’m not so sure.
So having said all of that, what kind of trade value would Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have if the Blue Jays made him available? It’s not an easy question to answer, and when you consider all of the variables involved in the equation I’m not sure the return would be worth letting go of an emerging talent. In my view, the Blue Jays are way better off hanging on to the 28 year old unless they’re blown away by an offer that I just don’t see coming.