Houston Astros: Yuli Gurriel gets better deal than expected

The Houston Astros took care of first base for at least one more year by re-signing Yuli Gurrier, but his extension seems like an overpayment.

The Houston Astros are set for a possible exodus of talent this offseason. Their entire starting outfield is scheduled to enter free agency, with George Springer likely to attract significant attention, and a large contract, during the offseason. First base was an impending issue as well, with Yuli Gurriel slated to hit the open market.

Houston took care of that issue, however. Gurriel has been signed to a one year extension worth $7 million, and an $8 million option for 2022.

This extension is likely to be far more than Gurriel would have earned in free agency. He produced a meager .232/.274/.384 batting line in 230 plate appearances, hitting six homers and 12 doubles.

The obvious hope is that the 2020 season was simply a down year. Due to the unusual circumstances of the season, virtually everyone in the Astros lineup struggled this year. Gurriel did produce a solid .298/.343/.541 batting line with 31 homers and 40 doubles last season, so this hope is not necessarily misguided.

But the fact remains that Gurriel is getting up there in age. He will be 37 years old next year, and it is fair to wonder if he has entered the downside of his career. He has still displayed a solid glove at first, but his days of being able to fill in at second and third are seemingly over.

It is also fair to wonder if the Astros just dramatically overpaid to keep one of their own in house. An aging first base/designated hitter type coming off of a career worst 76 OPS+ was not likely to attract much attention. Huoston very well could have gotten Gurriel for less, even with an option year, had he hit the open market.

It is possible that the Houston Astros did not want to take that risk. But unless Gurriel can rebound in 2021, this extension may be regrettable considering the numerous holes the front office will need to fill.