Toronto Blue Jays sign UTIL Lourdes Gurriel to a 7yr/$22MM contract

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. 

Grade: B

Toronto Blue Jays sign Kendrys Morales to 3yr/$33MM contract

November 11, 2016

The Toronto Blue Jays have inked Kendrys Morales for three years that will guarantee him $33MM, according to Chris Meola on Twitter. The Designated Hitter is 33 years old and batted .293/.327/.468 to go along with 30 HR's and 93 RBI's in 558 AB's in 2016 with the Kansas City Royals. Toronto is moving quickly in their quest to replace Edwin Encarnacion with a potential splash in the outfield next on the Blue Jays' to-do list if the team is unable to re-sign Jose Bautista.

How this affects Toronto's DH future outlook: He might not be as much of a threat as Encarnacion at the plate, but Kendrys Morales is coming off of two solid years where he's averaged 26 HR's and 100 RBI's. Injuries may still be a small concern for Morales considering he's only a few years removed from ACL surgery, but with back-to-back seasons of playing in at least 154 games, it's reasonable to say that keeping Morales as a designated hitter has rejuvenated his playing career. 

How this affects Toronto's overall future outlook: Considering the Royals didn't offer Morales a qualifying offer, the Blue Jays won't have to lose any draft picks either. With Encarnacion poised to cash in on a $100MM+ deal, President Mark Shapiro was wise to move on quickly and picked up Morales at a low cost. With Bautista and Encarnacion both set to depart, Morales' powerful left-handed bat will fit in the middle of the order nicely next to Donaldson's, Tulowitzki's, and Martin's right-handed bats. 

Bottom Line: With Encarnacion almost certain to depart this offseason, Mark Shapiro made the smart move in finding the next best bat on the market for a fraction of the price. 

Grade: B+