Ross Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays brain trust have made a plethora of roster-altering moves during their tenure north of the border however one in particular signing could be the defining acquisition of the General Manager’s career.
During the winter of the 2016 offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays landed Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. virtually out of nowhere signing the then 23-year old to a 7 year/ $22 million dollar pact. At the time of the acquisition, Gurriel was ranked the 6th best International prospect.
The interesting tidbit of this deal is that the Gurriel family are lifelong friends with countryman Kendrys Morales. The veteran signed a three-year deal with the Blue Jays on November 16th, 2016 while the Gurriel agreement was announced on November 12th, 2016. Both players are also represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
The modest contract although a risk at the time has the makings of being a steal for the Blue Jays. Gurriel earned $1,428,572 last season and will not get a sniff of free agency until 2024. The most Gurriel will ever earn in a season during the life of the contract is $5,828,571. According to Baseball Reference the remainder of the contract breaks down as follows:
The 24-year old looks to be on the cusp of superstardom if the young infielder can remain on the field. Gurriel who turns 25 this coming Wednesday, battled a couple of injuries during his coming out season including a sprained ankle.
He still managed to hit .281/.309/.446 with 70 hits including 11 home runs in 65 games during his rookie campaign. Gurriel was named the Player of the Month in July after setting a record for 11 consecutive multi-hit games. Gurriel was actually injured during the eleventh game and missed nearly a month of action.
Gurriel and his brother Yuli Gurriel also became the first siblings to hit 2-homers in a game on the same day. Lourdes victimized the Tampa Bay Rays while Yuli turned the trick versus the Los Angeles Angels.
The sky is the limit in terms of potential for Gurriel who will take over a full-time role for the Blue Jays right out of the gate next season. The Gurriel signing has the chance to be one of the most shrewd fiscal moves made by Atkins while paying huge dividends on the field for the Jays.