The New York Mets lost David Wright for the year after the third baseman elected to undergo neck surgery. As the team looks for a replacement, Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gourriel could be an interesting route.
With David Wright opting to undergo neck surgery and miss the rest of the season, the New York Mets are forced to look towards replacement options for their captain and starting third baseman. Enter Yulieski Gourriel.
The 32-year-old Cuban officially became a free agent last week and has already garnered interest from multiple team including the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets joined the race and will hold a private workout for the third baseman
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“We’re going to do our due diligence on that player,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said, as seen on ESPN. “…At the same time, this player hasn’t seen live pitching for weeks if not months. It’s not clear how long a player in that situation would take to be ready. And, of course, there is the investment and all the other issues — and making an evaluation currently of the player based on workouts and not game competition. But we’re going to go through that process.”
The Mets currently rank 29th in the majors in batting average, hitting a .234. In runs scored, they are just one better, ranked 28th with 250 runs – 141 behind the ML-leading Boston Red Sox. Adding a hitter that can revamp a struggling lineup like Gourriel may be the deciding factor between missing the cut/an early playoff exit and another World Series appearance.
Currently on the depth chart for the Mets, Wilmer Flores is the starting third baseman. The 24-year-old has not hit well thus far, batting .236 with three home runs and 10 RBI. The backup is utility man Kelly Johnson, who is not doing any better, hitting .233 with two home runs and 12 RBI.
The Mets have some huge holes left addressing, third base being one of them. The team has been rumored to be considering a reunion with shortstop Jose Reyes, who was recently DFA’d by the Colorado Rockies. Another option could be trading for a third baseman, like Danny Valencia, as Greg Goldstein writes. Adding Gourriel could be a different route.
Gourriel has played 15 professional seasons while overseas and has put together quite the résumé. He boasts a career .335 batting average with 250 home runs and over 1,000 RBI. In 4,725 at-bats, Gourriel has struck out just 428 times – which means he strikes out just once every 11 appearances.
Yoenis Cespedes is one player who has made it public that he would like the Mets to add Gourriel, considering him to be one of his friends as well as a great teammate. While it may not give the Mets an upper hand in the race, it certainly could be a trick up their sleeve, if the Mets choose.
Adding a player who can hit for average, is equipped with power, and is very disciplined at the plate would be a difference maker for the Mets, let alone any major league team. With upside does come a downside for Gourriel.
Gourriel is 32, which means he likely only has a few years left of his prime before he begins to hit a decline. Any team would likely have to sign Gourriel long-term and at a hefty price, which could end up biting back down the road.
But, for the time being, if he can make his major league debut in the near future, it may be worth it to add such a decorated ballplayer – especially come playoff time.