Best Deal: Since Eddie Rosario’s Contract was declined the New Contract is a perfect replacement…

Atlanta Braves Free Agent Targets: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Atlanta Braves Free Agent Targets: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. - Sports Illustrated Atlanta  Braves News, Analysis and More

With the Atlanta Braves not picking up the contract option for Eddie Rosario, free agent outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seems like the perfect fit to replace him.

With the Atlanta Braves not picking up the contract option for Eddie Rosario, free agent outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seems like the perfect fit to replace him.

While you could argue the top priority for the Atlanta Braves this offseason is beefing up the starting rotation even with the return of Charlie Morton, the biggest glaring need on the team is in left field.

If the season started today, Forrest Wall would be the team’s starting left fielder. And perhaps the 28-year-old former top prospect deserves a look, a team like the Braves with World Series aspirations can’t go into a season with a huge question mark in left field.

And it seems unlikely the Braves would decline a reasonable $9 million option on Rosario if they didn’t have something else in mind.

Could that something else be Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?

Why Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Makes Sense

Since leaving Cuba and making his major league debut in 2018, Gurriel has been a very consistent performer at the plate with at least a 102 wRC+ in 6 seasons. In two of the past three seasons, he’s also hit over 20 home runs, including a career-best 24 in 2023.

His walk rate is not impressive but has been around 5-6 percent every year with a strikeout rate of around 18 percent.

Diamondbacks' Cuban-born Lourdes Gurriel Jr. now U.S. citizen - ESPN

He’s also always been between a .260-290 hitter, but the OBP is something that has fluctuated throughout his career from the low 300s to mid-300s.

His defense has always been average to below-average, but this past season it was solid with a run value of plus-three.

Gurriel has primarily played left field since 2019, but has spent time at first base over that stretch as well.

The 30-year-old has always hit the ball very hard with a hard-hit rate in the 65th percentile or better in the last five seasons.

Something encouraging from this past season is he dramatically cut down his whiff-rate from 21 to 18 percent and upped his zone contact percentage from 85 to 88. His strikeout percentage has gotten better every year he’s been in the big leagues.

While the Braves lineup as a whole did a lot better job of cutting down on the strikeouts in 2023, it would be nice to have a bat that doesn’t swing and miss very often and can also hit 20 home runs.

That’s what the Braves thought they were getting with Eddie Rosario before his strikeout rate ballooned the past two seasons — 2022 understandably with the eye issues.

Another newly added benefit with Gurriel is that he is coming off an impressive postseason with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he hit 3 home runs and drove in 11. During that run for the Diamondbacks, Gurriel was viewed as one of the sparks for that team in the dugout, which is something the Braves could use in the postseason.

In terms of cost, MLB Trade Rumors has Gurriel projected to get a four-year deal for $54 million. That’s $13.5 million a year.

That price seems reasonable for someone with the track record of Gurriel, but it’s not like he doesn’t come with some risk. What will he give you in the OBP department? Will he be any less streaky than Rosario? Was the defense in 2023 legit?

You’d also be replacing a left-handed bat in the lineup with a right-handed bat, but in the three previous seasons, he actually had reverse splits.

Gurriel seems like a solid option for the Braves and could be a good fit both on the field and in the clubhouse. In the end, it might not be as huge of an upgrade over Rosario — especially considering how much more you’d be paying for Gurriel.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.