Yuli Gurriel Finds a Home as Marlins Ink Former Batting Champion

For weeks, the Marlins have been heavily linked to two-time World Series champion and former batting champion Yuli Gurriel. Now, it’s official. The Marlins have reportedly agreed with Gurriel on a Minor League deal that will give the 38-year-old a chance to provide some depth for a Marlins team that has struggled offensively over the past couple of seasons.

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A Look at Gurriel

Despite Yuli Gurriel being a part of the World Series champions, the 38-year-old posted arguably the worst season of his MLB career in 2022. Gurriel posted a .242/.288/.360 slash line with eight home runs 53 runs scored, and 53 RBIs. The ex-Astros infielder’s .288 OBP was the second-worst of his career and worst in a full season. His .117 OPS was the lowest of his seven-year career.

At 38 years of age, the two-time World Series champion isn’t the most agile defender at first. However, he should be serviceable. Gurriel’s attribute is by far and away his bat. When clicking, the infielder owns very impressive bat-to-ball skills. He won’t strike out a lot, can make hard contact, and should be able to provide leadership. Offensively, though, Gurriel has been a major question mark in recent years.

Sandwiched in between the 2021 campaign, in which he won a AL batting title, Gurriel has posted two below-average seasons. With that considered, it’s really not much of a shock that he stayed on the market for this long. But, Gurriel now has a home in Miami.

What it Means

Last month, we took a look at Gurriel’s chances at a reunion with the Astros. After Houston inked former AL MVP Jose Abreu to a multi-year deal this past winter, the chances of Houston needing a right-handed bat relegated to either DH or first — both of which have tenants — was rather slim. Now, Gurriel is set to join a Miami team that might be able to use Gurriel a bit more.

It might be hard, though, for Gurriel to crack the starting lineup for the Marlins as currently constructed. Miami does have Garrett Cooper entrenched at first, and new Marlin and reigning AL batting champ Luis Arraez does have a fair amount of experience. But with Arraez set to take over second base, Gurriel could slot in as a 1B/DH for Miami.

It also makes sense for the Marlins to have a backup plan at first, given Cooper’s numerous injuries. The 32-year-old played a career-high 119 games last year, but did sustain a concussion and left fifth metacarpal fracture. In 2021, Cooper was limited to just 71 games thanks to an elbow injury. While there’s some bad luck thrown in there, durability is a bit of a question mark for the 2022 All-Star.

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