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.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.