Top Cuban baseball player Yulieski Gourriel has officially been declared a free agent and he is free to sign with a team, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported on Monday. The 32-year-old third baseman defected from Cuba in February and has been working towards becoming a Major League Baseball free agent for most of this season.
The Cleveland Indians rarely come up in talks about who could land Gourriel, with the idea being that the Tribe front office would not be able to pony up the cash required to sign him. As Jeff Sullivan noted when Gourriel first defected from Cuba, Hector Oliva signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 30 years old. And by most accounts, Gourriel is expected to be better than Oliva and could shatter that mark.
But boy is it fun to think about the idea of him coming to the Indians. Gourriel started his Cuban National Series career in 2001 but did not really break out until 2003 when he had a tremendous .358/.418/.614 slash with the Gallos de Sancti Spiritus. In his last year playing in Cuba, Gourriel slashed .500/.589/.874 in 49 games. Being that he is 32, any team that signs Gourriel would probably do so with the idea that he will only be a star for 2-3 years at most. Which, again, would be such a perfect fit for the Indians.
Think about it: Let Gourriel steamroll the majors from third base for two years while the Indians have their current core intact, and by the time that's over, Yandy Diaz will be so ready to go it will not matter how dilapidated Gourriel is. Now wake up, you're back in reality where Juan Uribe just took a shot to the groin and Jose Ramirez is needed in left field.
For some reason, Gourriel has expressed interest in playing with the New York Yankees and has even had extensive talks with his former Cuba National teammate Aroldis Chapman. As much as Gourriel may want to play in New York (gross), he just is not a fit there, either. They already have Chase Headley for the short team, and they are a team that is looking to get younger, not tack on more 30-somethings to a sinking ship. The Indians, on the other hand, are a team who could use an anchor at third base for a few years.
This is much more than simply "the dolanz is cheep," though. Not only would the Indians have to sink whatever cash is required to sign Gourriel, but they would also be essentially admitting a mistake with Uribe and cutting another $4 million loose for nothing. That's not a small sum of money.
Wherever Gourriel goes, he is going to be fun to watch... I just wish it was the Indians. Maybe we could start a really big GoFundMe? I'll start the donations at $5 and pocket lint.