By Reynaldo Cruz
To many Cubans, it will be difficult to accept that one day Yuli Gurriel will have to hang ’em up. However, that day has not come: the Cuban legend has reportedly signed with the Miami Marlins. Ken Rosenthal tweeted a source had told The Athletic.
Free-agent first baseman Yuli Gurriel in agreement with Marlins, source tells @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 9, 2023
This puts an end to a long wait that had a few Yuli fans a little nervous about his future. Although there is less time left in him as an athlete, he can still show some of the tools that made him a scout favorite in 2006. The presence of the designated hitter in the National League opens the door for new possibilities and enables about 10 veterans to lengthen their careers in the Show.
This is the case of Yuli, who can still play second and third base (apart from first) and can fill in from time to time to give some rest to any of the infielders of the Fish. However, it is still uncertain whether he will be part of the MLB team or if he is headed to the Minors.
Although he was a fan favorite and a clubhouse presence with the Houston Astros, his chances to get signed by them got really narrow when they inked fellow Cuban José Abreu.
Whether Gurriel is the best Cuban player of his generation is still debatable. There is no doubt that José Abreu has had a much better career in the Majors, and that he will last a few years after Gurriel retires. But it is also true that Yuli started extremely late and has accomplished a batting title, a Gold Glove and won two World Series.
His future in the Floridian organization will depend on what he can do in Spring Training and how fast he catches up to the rest of the crew. We have to take into account that although he has not stopped training on his own, everybody else has been seeing game action and live pitching.
Judging by how his career has gone, he should have a better year than 2022, but it will be very difficult for him to replicate his 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. More than anything, the Marlins has a fairly young squad. Having him, a two-time World Series champion, and Jorge Soler, the 2021 World Series MVP, can bring a lot of leadership to the clubhouse. The Marlins are not a top contender, but they can still be a surprise.