Yuli Gurriel Remains Unemployed. A Definitive Farewell in MLB?

Yulieski Gurriel). Photo: Keith Allison

By Mayli Estevez (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – The Major League Baseball (MLB) season has kicked off, and one of the best players to have graced the big leagues in the last decade, Yuli Gurriel, remains unemployed, albeit hopeful of joining a team.

His latest move, just before the season began on March 27th suggests as much. The infielder from Sancti Spiritus bid farewell to his then-agent Diego Bentz and hired the services and contacts of an old fox, Gene Mato. Gurriel wants actions, not just more promises of a possible return to Major League Baseball.

According to sports reporter Francys Romero, the 39-year-old two-time World Series champion with the Houston Astros continues to train daily for a possible last-minute call-up.

Gurriel leads the list of Latino players with recent MLB experience who remained without a team this season, according to ESPN sports network.

He boasts a solid lifetime batting average of .281 in MLB and can boast of holding a Gold Glove at first base, despite having a discreet regular season in 2023 with the Miami Marlins (.245 average, 23 extra-base hits, and .663 OPS in 329 at-bats).

In his eight years in the Major Leagues, he has also accumulated eight home runs and 39 runs batted in the postseason and was an important factor in the Houston Astros’ conquest of the first two World Series titles (2017 and 2022). In 2021, Gurriel even won the American League batting title.

Any specialist would think that Gurriel has not finished delivering in the Major Leagues, at least in a secondary role, as he did in 2023 with the Miami Marlins. He is a spark plug on the bench and very useful and timely in critical moments of any game.

For the specialized magazine Fansided, Gurriel, who turns 40 in June 2024, can still fit into some big league teams (the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, or the Chicago White Sox, where he could act as a “mentor” to the Cuban prospect Luis Robert Jr.).

Marino Martínez, a sports writer for the Nuevo Herald, stated in January 2024 that he was convinced that several teams were interested in acquiring Gurriel due to his experience and good physical condition.

But reality for the Gurriel has not been as benevolent as it was thought a few months ago.

The Cuban infielder doesn’t want much either. Another year to round off some figures in Major League Baseball (reach 100 home runs and 500 runs scored and driven in).

Gurriel is convinced that he has the gasoline for the top level of the best baseball in the world. But we might be witnessing his definitive end in MLB.

“I arrived relatively late to the Major Leagues. I want to make the most of the lost time. I am very motivated by my dream, which has always been to play in MLB. I wake up every day as if it were the first and I will enjoy it to the fullest,” Gurriel said last year.

In March 2023, Gurriel signed a professional contract with the Marlins for that year’s Major League season. He played with the Marlins although he did not have a leading role with the team.

Gurriel entered professional baseball in the United States at the age of 32, late (as many say), and had always played under the command of the Houston Astros before his transfer to the Marlins.

If the current “unemployment” means that Gurriel will not return to the Major League diamonds, he could secure a contract in Asia or in the winter leagues of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or Mexico?

Romero comments: “I don’t think Yuli will play anywhere other than in MLB.” But the options left for him are scarce, and what he cannot afford, with the talent he still possesses, is to rust away within the four walls of a house.

Detractors or defenders aside, Yuliesky Gurriel has the ability for one more year at the highest level. I wrote it in October 2023, before the Marlins’ postseason, in which he thought he would play much more.

At this point and still unemployed in MLB, I maintain it, but perhaps the movie is over, and one is waiting for some post-credits scene.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

One thought on “Yuli Gurriel Remains Unemployed. A Definitive Farewell in MLB?

  • There comes a time in every professional or amateur athletes’ career when it is clear it is time to retire. In this baseball case: hang up the cleats.

    Yuli Gurriel has had a stellar baseball career both in his home country Cuba, the Olympics representing Cuba, and in the Major Baseball League in the U.S. Also his brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., demonstrated superior baseball skill excelling in the sport in Cuba and the U .S.

    Both baseball brothers take after their illustrious baseball father Lourdes Gurriel. Lourdes besides playing in the the very competitive Cuban baseball league shone brightly in the Majors both in the U.S and in Canada playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Canadian fans loved him.

    For a professional athlete, retiring from a sport one has played their entire life, been praised for outstanding performance, cheered by adoring fans, and being financially rewarded beyond expectations is extremely difficult to give up. But leaving the baseball field with head hung high must be done.

    There is nothing more embarrassing than watching a former professional athlete believing in their mind and pushing their aged body into believing that they are capable to play as well as their former self. More often than not it never works out. In fact, it usually turns out to be a disaster for the myopic professional athlete and anyone who encouraged the player to continue.

    For Yuri Gurriel at the age of 39 years after an illustrious baseball career and now financially independent needs to step aside for younger players to pursue their baseball dreams as he once did. Yuri would make a fantastic baseball minor league coach, a TV baseball commentator, or baseball official in the baseball world wherever he decides.

    Time to hang them up.

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