The New York Yankees are reportedly getting their very own sneak peek at Cuban star and third baseman, Yulieski Gourriel.
Some think he will be Major League Baseball ready by this season and that it could take up to $30 million to wheel him in.
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.
The problem that has popped up is age. As mentioned, Gourriel is already 32-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 likely establish himself as a starter on a major league roster immediately.
Another factor that must be considered is the fact that Gourriel has taken a year off baseball 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.
With the recent surge from Chase Headley (.299/.371/.436 since May 14) it will be tough to see the Yankees bite the bait on this one. But a Cuban superstar with the desire to throw on pinstripes may be the only way the Bombers will be able to add a bat this year and they very well may take the risk to stay competitive in the American League East.
All we can do is wait and see.