The Astros have signed infielder Yuli Gurriel to a one-year contract extension with a club option for 2022. News of the deal, which will pay Gurriel $6.5 million in 2021 plus either an $8 million salary or a $500,000 buyout in ‘22, comes mere hours before the Astros kick off the 2020 postseason against the Minnesota Twins.
Yuli Gurriel gets $6.5M 2021 salary plus 500K buyout on 8M 2022 option in new deal with Astros @Ken_Rosenthal 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 29, 2020
Gurriel, who was widely regarded as the greatest Cuban player of his era but didn’t defect until his prime was nearly over, has a .287/.324/.468 career slash line with 71 homers — good for a well-above-average 111 OPS+ — over 2,116 plate appearances i five seasons with the Astros. But he posted a career-worst .232/.274/.384 slash line with six homers over 57 games this season, raising concern that his skill set may be fading quickly at 36 years old. But with no obvious candidate to replace Gurriel at first base next season, the Astros obviously found it worthwhile to bring back a player who’s been good for them in the not-too-distant past, especially considering that it’s at a relatively affordable cost. Gurriel is being paid modestly enough that the Astros could justify benching him or parting ways with him at midseason next year in the event that they find an upgrade or if his apparent decline continues.