After an unusually quiet offseason, rumors are heating up regarding the New York Yankees’ roster for the 2016 season. While the Yankees did not sign any of the top names on the market in the most recent free agency period, the team is still looking to add pieces to improve their chances in the always-competitive AL East. In addition to being linked to numerous veteran pitchers that are still on the market, the Yankees are also reportedly interested in defected Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel — and the interest is apparently mutual.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Yankees have expressed their interest in Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, and even Bryce Harper for the 2018 season. While none of these moves have come to fruition, the Yankees have also been linked to Gourriel earlier in the month, and it appears as though the interest may be increasing.
After finishing with a solid record of 87-75, the Yankees’ 2015 season ended prematurely with a disappointing loss to the Houston Astros in the opening round of the playoffs. While many of the remaining Yankees’ stars from the 2009 team are rapidly aging such as CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, the franchise still has a chance to compete for one last World Series before the roster fully turns over.
At 31-years-old, Yulieski Gourriel would not exactly fit into the Yankees’ long-term plans, but he could be a valuable piece over the next four or five seasons. Over his 15-year playing career, Gourriel boasts an elite batting average of.333. He also has 245 home runs and 999 RBIs, which are both solid numbers for an infielder.
It is important to remember that while Gourriel has impressive numbers playing in Cuba and Japan, he has not faced MLB pitching. Regardless, the potential for Gourriel succeeding in the majors is there, and many scouts believe that he will have success when he signs with an MLB team.
As reported by Bleacher Report, Gourriel would especially be a fit for the Yankees because of their injury concerns and lack of big bats.
“Yulieski represents a tantalizing, instant-impact option for many clubs, but he should particularly excite the Yankees, who could use another bat and are facing uncertainty in the infield. First baseman Greg Bird is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Mark Teixeira, bounce-back 2015 campaign aside, turns 36 in April and will likely need reps at designated hitter to stay healthy and productive. The same, and then some, goes for Alex Rodriguez, who is entering his age-41 season. Chase Headley can handle both corner-infield positions, but he’s coming off a dormant season in the Bronx that saw him post a pedestrian.693 OPS and hit just three home runs after the All-Star break. The point is, there’s room for Gourriel.”
As a career third baseman, the only player standing in Gourriel’s way on the Yankees is Chase Headley. Also 31-years-old, Headley has not exactly been the most consistent player over his nine-year career. In 2012, he hit 31 home runs, but his next highest total is only 13. He also has a career batting average of only.264, and he has not hit above.265 since 2012.
Regardless, the Yankees are still paying Headley a lot of money, so he is likely to get the benefit of the doubt. With that being said, Gourriel could still provide a tremendous benefit for the New York Yankees even if he is not the opening day starter at third base. According to the New York Post, Gourriel could also potentially play second base. While the Yankees are high on Starlin Castro, it just gives Gourriel another possible position to fill in case of an injury or prolonged slump by Castro.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Yulieski Gourriel also specifically wants to join the New York Yankees in order to play with his favorite player — Alex Rodriguez.
With the Yankees’ first game slightly over a month and a half away, rumors are going to continue to swirl regarding the final pieces to their roster. With the Yankees expressing interest in Gourriel and the interest being mutual, there is a real chance that the Cuban star is with the club for the 2016 season.
[Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images]