Jeff Bagwell speaks on potential Yuli Gurriel return
Fanfest is today! Always one of the off-season highlights, Fanfest reunites Astros fans with players, the coaching staff, and even front office members. Fans are able to sit in on interviews, take batting practice swings down in the cage, visit autograph sessions and plenty more.
Countless intriguing sound bites come out of a day like today, and we’ll be reacting to all of them.
First, the future of Yuli Gurriel. Jeff Bagwell had this to say at Fanfest:
"There's nobody that loves Yuli more than us, myself, Jim (Crane), Dusty (Baker), everybody. It's just trying to find the right fit for the club. He's a huge part of our success here. We'll continue to monitor that situation."- Jeff Bagwell
Yuli has been a key piece of the Astros’ golden era. The Cuban legend arrived in Houston and 2016 and the team hasn’t looked back. He provided elite defense at 1B, and until last season, was a staple in the middle of the order. It’s no coincidence Houston won four pennants and two World Series while La Piña was an Astro.
Sadly, those days have likely come to an end. Gurriel was a total liability in the lineup last season. He hit .242 with a .647 OPS. His -0.3 WAR was dreadful. One year removed from winning a batting title, Gurriel looked like a shell of himself.
His Statcast metrics show a consistently poor quality of contact, lending little hope that he regains form in 2023. Astros fans have clamored all offseason for his return in a utility role. We’ve broken down both the case for and the case against such a reunion.
Though if one reads between the lines of Bagwell’s quotes, it appears that Gurriel’s time in Houston has come to an end. Sentimentality has never been the Astros' MO. If it has, six straight ALCS trips, four pennants, two World Series, a batting title and a gold glove is quite a legacy to leave.
He’s been massively impactful on the Astros success in the international market with his iconic stature in Cuba, so hopefully he has a role in the front office after his playing days are over. If this is it for Gurriel, well done Yuli. Best of luck wherever you land, and you’ll always be a legend in The H.