The Astros should still re-sign Yuli Gurriel
After the Astros re-signed Michael Brantley, they now have two remaining spots on their 40-man roster. A hallmark of the Astros' golden era of baseball has been employing utility players to handle a variety of positions. With Aledmys Diaz now gone, Houston has a slot open for a utility man. They should look internally for thier next candidate.
Houston should re-sign Yuli Gurriel. After all, you can't spell utility without Y-U-L-I.
It is no secret Gurriel struggled mightily in 2022. He was plagued by soft contact all season and stumbled to his worst season as a pro, posting a -0.3 bWAR and a .242 batting average with a .647 OPS. Approaching age-39, this was the first time La Piña showed signs of his advanced age.
But once October rolled around, we saw the Yuli of old make a resurgence. Gurriel's success in the playoffs shouldn't be attributed to a hot streak or coincidence. He slashed .347/.360/.490 with two home runs and only one strikeout in 49 at-bats.
I believe this success can be chalked up to the built-in off-days we see throughout the playoffs. The playoff load is not nearly as taxing as the grind of a 162-game regular season. With the additional rest throughout the playoffs, Yuli found the fountain of youth and resembled the hitter he once was.
If Gurriel spent next season in a utility role, playing every second or third day, he could still display his lightning hands and rack up hits off the bench, spelling Abreu, Altuve and Bregman. We know Yuli can play an elite first base, but Jim Crane told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that Gurriel can also play second and third-base.
And even if the additional rest doesn't lead to a resurgence, he is still, even with his struggles, an infinitely better bat than Mauricio Dubon. Dubon's .214 average and .565 OPS are cringeworthy. Dubon can play short and center, but with David Hensley's bat around to play shortstop, the need for Dubon dwindles. If Jake Meyers can regain any sort of form, or if Pedro Leon earns a call-up, Dubon simply doesn't bring enough offensively to justify receiving at-bats.
The 83 appearances he made for Houston could easily be replaced with at-bats for Gurriel. Yuli is beloved by the fans, beloved in the clubhouse and his Cuban connection remains vital to their control of the international market.
The Astros only have two spots left to fill on their roster. Giving one of the two to Yuli Gurriel on a one-year, $4-5 million contract to be a utility player is a no-brainer.