November 12, 2016,
The Toronto Blue Jays have signed prized Cuban prospect, Lourdes Gurriel to a seven-year contract worth $22MM. Gurriel, the younger brother of Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, batted .344/.407/.560 in the Cuban league in 2015 before taking this past season off to prepare for the Major Leagues. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranked Gurriel as the No. 6 prospect among this year's international class. It's unclear when Gurriel will be ready for the show, but the Blue Jays made this signing with the intent of getting Gurriel prepared to make his debut with the next couple seasons.
How this affects Toronto's IF Future Outlook: Gurriel's versatility is one of his biggest strengths as he can play all over the diamond. His natural position is up the middle at shortstop or second base, but with Tory Tulowitzki and Devon Travis under team control for a while, Gurriel will likely begin his Major League playing elsewhere. If Josh Donaldson departs in free agency, the Blue Jays will have a major hole at third base. Unless they adress the position long-term next off-season, the Jays will likely plug Gurriel at the hot corner with Richard Urena taking over shortstop after the conclusion of Tulowitzki's contract. Gurriel will likely move around the diamond again once the team's top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is ready to take over at third base.
How this affects Toronto's overall future outlook: The 23 year-old doesn't figure to affect the team anytime soon, but after some minor league seasoning, he has the kind of upside that could drastically alter the lineup upon his arrival. He's a very fast player having recorded a 6.65 60-yard dash at his showcase last month so he will likely hit near the top of the lineup and be a catalyst for players like Rowdy Tellez and Kendrys Morales hitting behind him.
Bottom Line: The Blue Jays are lacking an identity after the departures of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. As they figure out what their next identity is, spending $22MM to acquire a high-ceiling player like Gurriel could help them figure it out in the years to come.