The Astros will keep their starting infield together for at least another year after signing first baseman Yuli Gurriel to a one-year deal for 2021 with an option for ’22. The deal, announced Tuesday by the club, is worth $6.5 million (plus performance bonuses) for next year with the option worth $8 million, according to a source.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen before the end of the season,” Gurriel said. “I wasn’t too worried about it. Obviously, it was something that was on my mind and I’m really happy that it happened.”
Astros general manager James Click said the club was excited to get the deal done before the playoffs.
“Yuli made it obvious that this is a place he wants to be,” he said. “He’s very comfortable here and we’re very comfortable with him. Over the last week or so, I would say things picked up and we were able to line up on this.”
Gurriel, signed by the Astros in 2016 following a decorated career in Cuba, has been vocal about his desire to remain in Houston, where’s he's among the team’s most popular players.
“I never thought there would be so much chemistry between the players, the coaching staff as well, and it’s just a perfection situation,” he said.
The Astros have second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman locked up to long-term contracts, and shortstop Carlos Correa has one more year of club control. The four have played together since the 2016 season, with Tuesday’s Wild Card Series Game 1 against the Twins marking their 45th playoff game together.
“That’s one of my favorite things about the situation for me is we’ve got a lot of the guys who are going to be here the next couple of years that have been here the last couple of years,” Gurriel said. “We have a lot of chances to still have a lot of success the next few years.”
Gurriel, 36, hit .232/.274/.384 in 57 games in the regular season this year, with six homers and 22 RBIs in his fourth full season in the big leagues. One of the cornerstones to the franchise’s run to the World Series in 2017 and ’19, Gurriel is a career .287/.324/.468 hitter with 71 homers and 301 RBIs.
Last year, Gurriel had his best season, hitting .298 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs, batting .338 with 22 doubles, 26 homers and 72 RBIs in his final 73 games.
“I don’t think he had a down year, necessarily, this year,” Click said. “Our excitement about him is what he can do next year and the year after that. What we see on the field this year goes into it, but beyond that, we know Yuli, we’ve known him for a long time, we know what a competitor he is and we know what a clutch hitter he is, and we expect all those things back with us for 162 games next year.”
Click declined comment on the looming free agency of the team’s other players, including the starting outfield of Michael Brantley, George Springer and Josh Reddick.