TORONTO -- The Blue Jays said they didn't intend to just hand a starting job to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this spring, and they proved it by signing veteran Freddy Galvis to a one-year contract on Tuesday afternoon.Galvis is expected to compete with Gurriel for the starting shortstop position after he
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays said they didn't intend to just hand a starting job to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this spring, and they proved it by signing veteran Freddy Galvis to a one-year contract on Tuesday afternoon.
Galvis is expected to compete with Gurriel for the starting shortstop position after he agreed to the deal worth $4 million. The contract also includes a $5.5 million club option for 2020, which contains a $1 million buyout, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
The 29-year-old Galvis appeared in all 162 games during each of the past two seasons for the Phillies and Padres. He is considered an above-average defender at short, something Toronto currently lacks, and is a career .246/.290/.374 hitter across seven seasons in the Major Leagues.
This deal will have a direct impact on Gurriel, who had a breakout rookie season in 2018, but has yet to find a permanent home on the field. He appeared in 46 games last season at shortstop and 24 at second base, but there also was some talk earlier in his career that he would eventually be used in a corner outfield spot as well.
Gurriel's biggest upside is his bat. He posted a .281 average last season, which came in a year he tied the American League record for the longest streak of consecutive games with multiple hits (11). It finished as the longest multihit streak all-time by a rookie and the longest in franchise history.
The offensive skills are why the Blue Jays feel Gurriel has such a bright future, but he still has a lot of work to do defensively and the club can't say for certain that he is its future shortstop. While there's no questioning the arm, Gurriel needs to improve his footwork, and the expectation is that at some point he will have to switch positions.
Galvis gives the Blue Jays a natural shortstop on the roster, and he essentially takes the spot of infielder Aledmys Díaz, who was traded to Houston for right-hander Trent Thornton. At the very least, Galvis will push Gurriel for the starting shortstop job this spring and will provide a solid glove off the bench. He batted .248 with a .680 OPS in 602 at-bats for the Padres in 2018.
This deal is also yet another reminder that the Blue Jays are expected to take a patient approach with Minor League shortstop Bo Bichette. Toronto's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to spend most of the year at Triple-A Buffalo, and the club likely will take a similar approach as it has with Vladimir Gurrero Jr., which means Bichette won't debut for another year.
With the latest move, the Blue Jays' infield suddenly looks pretty crowded. Brandon Drury will open the year as the starting third baseman, but that will only last a few weeks before Guerrero is promoted from the Minor Leagues. At short, Gurriel and Galvis will battle it out, and Devon Travis is the starter at second, but he may be pushed for time by both Drury and Gurriel.
During Toronto's annual Winter Fest, which was held at Rogers Centre on Jan. 19-20, incoming Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said the only infielder with a guaranteed job was first baseman Justin Smoak. Every other infielder on the roster would have to earn his playing time, and the signing of Galvis drove home that point even further.
Right-hander Danny Barnes was designated for assignment to make room for Galvis on the 40-man roster. Barnes had been a regular presence in the Blue Jays' bullpen during each of the last three seasons, but he fell on hard times in 2018 with a 5.71 ERA over 47 games.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.