DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
The Jays continued the trend they established last season by signing two players for their first #TransactionFriday, where they signed Cuban position players Lourdes Gurriel Jr and Kendrys Morales to contracts worth a reported 7Y/22M and 3Y/33M respectively. The pair are both interesting signings and they could both winding up playing an important role in the Blue Jays 2017 and the seasons afterwards.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a 23 year old infielder last played for the Industriales de la Habana in Cuba. He logged time at second, third, short and left field during that stretch. The deal is for seven years though MLBTR speculated that he could opt out in favor of the arbitration process. He represents a good and interesting signing for the Jays, as he could end up as a replacement for a number of current Jays including josh Donaldson (free agent in 2019), an asset if Devon Travis appears to be injury prone, or a left fielder if the Jays cannot find someone better. Unfortunately, he is not expected to be ready for the majors next season but international prospects are sometimes hard to judge so nothing is certain. On the plus side, he is 23 years old do he doesn't count against the Jays international bonus pool. Overall, there is little risk to signing Gurreil Jr., as he will only cost the Jays a little over 3 million if he fails to pan out but is a player with tremendous upside if the does.
Later that day, the Jays signed designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who spent the last two seasons with the Kansas City Royals. One massive plus side with him is that he is a switch hitter, so he'll being more balance to the lineup. However his inability to play defensively (just 90 innings in the field) leaves him as strictly a DH, which likely spells the end of Edwin Encarnacion's time as a Blue Jays. His solid WRC+ of 110 and the serious power he brings with 30 home runs despite playing half his games at Kauffman Stadium shows that he is a solid hitter. He's also recorded at least 100 RBI's in all but one season since 2012 and has a career .273 batting average. Overall, this represents another solid and understandable for the Blue Jays. If this does mean the end for Edwin Encarnacion, he probably priced himself outside the Jays comfort level which unfortunately means that it was unrealistic for us to expect the Jays to resign this franchise legend. Either way, this could prove to be an interesting signing for the Jays next season.
With some interesting signings for the first Friday of the offseason, the Jays are continuing the trend of acquiring players on Fridays. The pair are both expected to be reasonable contributors to the team in future seasons. Whether good or bad, it's nice to see the team active early in free agency with a apparent willingness to spend money in free agency.