Gio Urshela has literally come out of nowhere to become the odds-on candidate as the Yankee’s MVP, which makes him an MVP when the dealing starts…
Gio Urshela, the player who came out of nowhere, having hailed from Colombia traded? The title is not click-bait. It’s a valid question and I’m taking it seriously. And the Yankees might very well do the same in their search for a number two type starting pitcher.
Consider this. There’s a reason why Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird are still the property of the Yankees. Their value has never been lower, so who wants them? In contrast, take a player like Hunter Pence, who spent a year plying his trade in the lowliest of the minor leagues last year to prove he can still “do it”.
Today, Pence, a three-time All-Star in his other baseball life, is a valuable regular in the line-up of the Texas Rangers. He’s batting .309 with eleven home runs and 35 RBI, which puts him on a pace to finish with 33 dingers and 105 runs batted in. Think his value on the trade market isn’t off the charts? It’ll be a miracle if Pence is still wearing a Ranger’s uniform on August 1.
Gio Urshela is having an even better year for the Yankees. Sparkling defense at third base and a batting average that touches .340, together with a knack to come up with whatever the Yankees need to win a game, seemingly would make Urshela untouchable. If only baseball worked that way…
Gio Urshela: Rollin’ The Dice
Players are here today and gone tomorrow. Yesterday is just that – already gone – and the only thing that matters is tomorrow. As with Pence, can Gio Urshela be expected to maintain the pace he is on over the remaining two-thirds of the season? The operative word, of course, is expected.
Staying with the Pence analogy, both players have become fan favorites, and Pence at least is already a runaway candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. But the business of baseball trumps everything. So regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, the idea of exploring trade possibilities, especially since neither player has prohibitive salaries to deal with, is a fact of baseball life.
The oncoming return of Didi Gregorius comfortably moves Gleyber Torres to second, and this, in turn, opens up a spot for DJ LeMahieu as the regular third baseman, replacing Urshela. The defense suffers a bit, but not by much.
Does anyone wish Urshela off the team? Of course not. But why wouldn’t the Atlanta Braves, for instance, not be willing to part with one of their prized young starters in return for Urshela, who at the very least can provide an insurance policy for Josh Donaldson, who appears to be aging before our eyes?
Or, how about that team in Queens who is still looking for a third baseman to replace the iconic David Wright? The Washington Nationals (think Stephen Strasburg), if they decide to trade free-agent-to-be Anthony Rondon to avoid a repeat of the Bryce Harper mistake, are also a possible suitor for the Yankees, assuming they are willing to add at least two prospects for Strasburg.
And the list goes on and on. But the point remains. Imagine the phone calls Brian Cashman can make and field with Gio Urshela’s name in the conversation.
No one says Cashman has to pull the trigger. In another scenario, Cashman can simply field the calls, giving him a firm idea of where to go during the offseason with Urshela’s name on the ballot.
It comes down to the degree of which the Yankees believe Urshela has turned the corner from a .249 career batter with ten home runs and 59 RBI over the course of what amounts to a full season in the majors (594 at-bats).
Are Urshela’s numbers for the 2019 season an aberration or a sign of even better things to come from the 27-year-old? As I said in the beginning, it’s a valid question, though one that is filled with a multitude of speculative possibilities.
A full month of baseball lies ahead before the trade deadline heats up. Only one thing cannot be argued – this is why Brian Cashman gets paid the big bucks. Lest we are reminded though, here’s Gio Urshela as the Yankee’s MVP…