The New York Yankees are apparently the Cuban Baseball player’s dream team and he’s in love with the idea of playing in the Bronx.
According to NJ Media’s Brandan Kuty, the 31-year-old Cuban third baseman would “love” to play in New York for the Yankees and has been inquiring about the team. He has turned to fellow Cuban teammate and the team’s current closer, Aroldis Chapman, to reiterate his desire to play for the club.
“He has asked me many questions,” Chapman told NJ Media. “I’ve only been with two teams but for me, this is the best environment I’ve been in. It’s a nice atmosphere here. The clubhouse, too.”
Gourriel and his little brother, Lourdes Gourriel Jr. (who is 22), have defected from Cuba in February and are working out in order to earn a contract with a Major League Baseball team. Out of the two, Yulieski seems like a more intriguing option if the Yankees choose to pursue.
In 14 seasons playing in Cuba and another season of baseball in Japan, the 31-year old hit .335 with 250 home runs and drove in 1,018 RBI while manning the third base position.
In 2015, while playing for the Industriales de La Habana, Gourriel slashed .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs in merely 49 games. Defensively, he managed a .950 fielding percentage at third and got some action at shortstop.
For those who can’t tell that those conventional statistics are abnormally epic, let this highlight reel tell you the story:
There are, unfortunately, two question marks that would pose potential roadblocks.
First, his position is third base and the Yankees already possess a third baseman in Chase Headley who is slated to make $13 million for the next two years.
Despite the lack of vacancy in starters in New York, if Gourriel can bring his power and on-base capabilities from Cuba to the United States, he may dismiss the pressure from the waning superstars the Yankees have in their lineup.
The second problem that has popped up is age. Gourriel is already 31-years-old and New York cannot simply just stick him in the farm system in order to develop him. If he comes to the Bronx, or anywhere, he’ll establish himself as a starter on a major league roster immediately.
Of course, Gourriel is older and scouts have raved on how men at his age with all this time off from professional baseball (due to the defection) tend to fade. The risk of his astronomical numbers falling off may be too high for the Yankees to go all in.
Nevertheless, we’ve seen the Bombers take that risk time in and time out. Their most recent risk taken was when they inked Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million to come over from Japan. Yes, there was a risk with his workload and ability to translate success over from Japan (thanks, Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu), but that didn’t matter.
It may feel like a re-build and fans may be calling for one, but the front office’s moves in recent memory have shown us there is indeed no such thing as a rebuild in the Bronx.
Also, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees’ international scouting director has stated that the team has a legitimate interest in the kid.
With the American League East expected to be competitive for the next couple of years, the Yankees may bite the bait and take on a Cuban superstar with the desire to throw on pinstripes.