Astros sign Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel

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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Houston Astros have signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to 5-year, $47.5 million deal.

Gurriel, a 32-year-old third baseman, batted .535 with a 1.615 OPS and 10 home runs over 23 games last season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional and he registered a 1.009 OPS in 49 games the season before. Here’s a scouting report on Gurriel from 2080’s Dave Defriates from a few months back. Short version: his bat probably plays in the bigs right now, but his defense can be erratic, even if he is generally competent at third. At 32 you figure that the defense will not improve, of course, so his window as a big contributor is likely to be somewhat narrow, even if he could provide a lot of help to a club for a few years with his bat.

It’s unclear what Houston’s plans are for Gurriel, but they could use help at first base and DH, and it’s not crazy to think the Gurriel could slot into those positions. Alternative, Luis Valbuena could move across the diamond to first base — he’s played there a little bit in the past — and Gurriel could play his natural position.

One assumes there will be some minor league ramp-up time first, but the Astros do have a lot of ground to cover to catch the Rangers, and Gurriel could help them cover it.