Even if Lourdes Gurriel Jr. didn’t start having issues with his throws to 1st base, he’d still have been hard pressed to find a starters job in the increasingly crowded Blue Jays infield in the years to come.
Consider how many infielders are currently with or soon to be with the Blue Jays who fall ahead of Gurriel on Toronto’s organizational depth chart. Gurriel’s hope was to play either shortstop or 2nd base, but how is that even going to be possible when the Blue Jays already have Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Richard Urena, and Brandon Drury under team control for years to come. What Gurriel and the Blue Jays need to do is forget about him playing the infield, because his future in the big leagues will be as an outfielder.
The encouraging news for Gurriel and the Blue Jays is that he has some experience playing in the outfield. As a 21-year old with Industriales de La Habana of the Cuban League in 2015-2016, Gurriel handled himself quite well as an outfielder. In 40 games playing left field (307 innings), Gurriel posted a respectable .983 fielding percentage with just one error and three assists.
Listed at 6-3 (but probably closer to 6-4), Gurriel is a giant compared to most middle infielders. Most bigger guys don’t make for the best middle infielders because their footwork is often lacking and they have to bend so far over to field grounders. Although there have been some amazing shortstops who were taller than 6-3 (e.g. Cal Ripken, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter), they’re still incredibly rare. And even rarer is to have a 2nd baseman anywhere near that height. A position normally reserved for shorter players that are speedy and agile with an ability to make quick sharp throws.
With so many talented young infielders and nowhere near the same kind of depth in the outfield, the timing couldn’t be better for Gurriel to make such a switch. Gurriel has too much talent as a hitter to be wasting away his prime years down in the minors. The sooner the Blue Jays convert him into an outfielder (a process that might take months), the sooner they’ll have his quality bat back in the big leagues where it belongs.