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The New York Mets Should Sign Yulieski Gourriel

If you haven’t already heard, the New York Mets are having trouble scoring runs. They could use help and that help could come from signing Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gourriel.

While the Mets are in the top five in the National League in home runs, they currently stand 28th in Major League Baseball in runs scored, which can’t happen if the Mets want to edge out the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East. The Mets COO Jeff Wilpon realizes this as well and doesn’t think the team can wait for the trade deadline.

“Guys haven’t hit. I can’t tell you why.” Wilpon told reporters at the Harlem RBI’s dinner on Monday. “I think we might need to do something before (July 31). The deadline’s still four, six weeks away. We’ve got to start playing better baseball now.”

Where the Mets Need Help

To diagnose the problem, the Mets are dealing with a lack of offense and multiple injuries to position players. While first baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Juan Lagares will all come back sooner or later, third baseman David Wright will miss at least six to eight weeks. Both Curtis Granderson and Cespedes won’t be replaced in the outfield and if Michael Conforto is sent to the minors, as has been hinted by the team, they would most likely bring up Brandon Nimmo who is a top prospect for the Mets and is currently raking in AAA Las Vegas. Lagares could always take over when he comes back if neither Nimmo nor Conforto could hold down the job.

A real upgrade would come in the form of an infielder. Wilmer Flores has shown last year that he can hit and has reiterated that point this year ever since being named the everyday third baseman. Asdrubal Cabrera has done a solid job so far at shortstop and James Loney has filled in nicely for Duda, as well. Neil Walker has stood out at second base as his 14 home runs puts him on pace for more than 23, which was in career high in 2014.

Having said all that, not one of those hitters strikes fear in a pitcher’s eye, nor could any of those players carry the Mets on their shoulders. If the Mets were to acquire infield help, Manager Terry Collins could mix and match the infielders in different ways so none of them would have to ride the pine for too long. One thing is a must though, and that is the Mets need an impact bat in the form of an infielder.

Why other options wouldn’t work

When it comes to trades, the Mets aren’t in a position like they were last year when a star like Yoenis Cespedes was on the market. Cespedes was on a losing team and had an expiring contract which made the Detroit Tigers trading him a no-brainer. A situation like that was ideal for the Mets as well since they didn’t have to trade any big pieces, they got an impact bat, and they weren’t locked into any big contracts.

Different names have been bounced around the organization such as the Oakland A’s third baseman Danny Valencia and soon-to-be free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. Valencia, Reyes and players of their caliber wouldn’t be the upgrade the Mets need.

Valencia has had a solid season so far in which he has batted .326 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI, but that isn’t going to save the Mets. It doesn’t seem worth it to give up a prospect or two for a guy having one of his best years and who may still not be enough. In regards to Reyes, sure he may come cheap as the Colorado Rockies will likely eat his contract, but he is surely not the player he once was when he formerly played with the Mets. Also his recent domestic violence baggage isn’t something that teams take well to with a player. There are plenty of similar options that could be viewed as too much money, not enough production, or would take a haul of prospects in exchange.

Why Yulieski Gourriel Makes Sense

Enter Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gourriel. In 174 at bats in 2015 he hit .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. If you tripled the amount of his at bats to 522, he would be on pace for 45 home runs and 153 RBI. While he probably wouldn’t keep that pace, 522 at bats are still less than a full season in the Major Leagues.

Gourriel is seen as a plus bat and a plus defender who can play third base, second base and shortstop which gives Collins some versatility. Gourriel is 32 years old which may scare some people away, but the Mets must win the World Series in the next few years before their pitchers start hitting free agency. Granderson and starting pitcher Bartolo Colon have proven that age is but a number.

Many may think that you can’t compare Cuba’s league to MLB, but we have seen our share of successes especially recently with players like Cespedes, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Yasmany Tomas. Obviously signing Gourriel doesn’t mean he will pan out like these players. There have been busts such as Rusney Castillo who was recently waived by the Boston Red Sox. Also depending on who you talk to, some may consider Yasiel Puig to be a bust, although he has shown signs of stardom.

While none of these players have been too cheap right out of Cuba, if you compare them to other players who were already in MLB, not only are they cheaper, but they aren’t signed for as many years. Few would say Joe Mauer‘s eight year $184 million, or Carl Crawford‘s seven year $142 million contracts are better than Cespedes’ four year $36 million or Abreu’s six year $68 million contracts from out of Cuba. Now with Wright expected to miss significant time, the Mets will recoup 75 percent of his contract from the insurance they took out. GM Sandy Alderson has said in the past that the Mets can and will spend when they feel the time is right. After last year’s World Series appearance, it is clear that the time is now.

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