The Gurriel brothers are one step closer to making their Major League dreams come true.
Last month, older brother Yulieski Gurriel, 32, signed a $47.5 million deal with the Astros and is quickly making his way up the Minor League ranks. On Monday, younger brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and officially became eligible to sign.
Lourdes, who is currently training in Panama, is expected to have a large showcase for all 30 teams as well as private workouts in the coming months at a time and place to be determined. The Astros have been open about their interest in signing both Gurriels. Lourdes is expected to test the market for the best deal.
"We would like to play together on the same team, have my brother near me," Yulieski told MLB.com earlier this year. "But if the circumstances don't permit it and we have to go different paths, that's what we will do."
Lourdes is not expected to sign anytime soon and here's why: Cuban players who are at least 23 years old and have played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons are exempt from the international signing guidelines established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, effectively making them free agents once they are eligible to sign with a big league club.
Lourdes, who played six seasons in Cuba, won't be 23 until October. He will not be subject to the guidelines if he signs after he turns 23, and therefore stands to have more leverage if he signs after his birthday because teams would not have to use money from their international bonus pool to sign him.
On the field, Lourdes can play the infield and outfield. He was hitting .321 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs and a .924 OPS in 43 games for the Havana Industriales this season before defecting with his brother in February after the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A good runner with a good glove, the younger Gurriel could project as a center fielder and can also play shortstop.
As for Yulieski, he hit .429 with a home run and nine RBIs in four games at Class A Advanced Lancaster and also played two games in the Gulf Coast League. He will join Houston's Double-A team in Corpus Christi on Tuesday and could be in the big leagues sometime next week.