With the Toronto Blue Jays possibly in need of outfield help, we look at whether Randal Grichuk would be worth exploring
Recently, I wrote that the outfield is not the top priority for the Toronto Blue Jays this winter. The point was that the middle infield situation is more dire. The piece was met with some very interesting conversation, to be sure. But there were those who didn’t agree. They wanted GM, Ross Atkins to pursue some help in the outfield so that Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera wouldn’t need to be relied upon so much.
After losing Jose Bautista, it would not surprise to see the Blue Jays look to fill the void with someone more reliable than Anthony Alford or Dalton Pompey. For that reason, it might be worth calling up St Louis and check on the availability of Randal Grichuk.
It has been said that the Cardinals could shop Grichuk this winter. Apparently, the Cards are flush with outfield talent, making Grichuk expendable. When asked if he expected to be playing in St Louis next season, Grichuk had this short and simple response for MLB.com‘s Jennfier Langosch: “No. Not necessarily.”
So, the question is whether it would be worth Toronto’s while to explore bringing Grichuk aboard.
Grichuk brings a right handed bat with some power. In parts of three seasons, he has averaged home run totals in the area of 20. He’s put up 7.3 fWAR in his brief big league career.He’s a guy who doesn’t make a lot of soft contact and has put up wRC+ seasons of 138, 103, and 94. He’s a good fastball hitter, who pulls the ball. It isn’t too difficult to envision him hitting quite well in the Rogers Centre.
Perhaps, the better value that Grichuk brings is on the defensive side of things. He has seen action in all three outfield positions, the bulk of which have come in the corner spots. In total, 2017 yielded 6 DRS ad a UZR/150 of 8.1. That would play rather nicely in an outfield that features Kevin Pillar as the only truly trustworthy player.
At 26 years old, Grichuk comes with three more season of team control, which makes him very appealing. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. He made the league minimum in 2017 and could see a modest increase in his salary, but it would not be anything prohibitive.
As good as all of this sounds, there is a reason the Cardinals would look to trade him. It is likely similar to the reason he was demoted this season. He had difficulty contributing consistently. Notice his wRC+ took a dip in 2017 after being rather positive the previous two seasons.
Grichuk does hit for power as evidenced by his 2017 ISO of .235, but he also brings a strike out rate of 30.1%! His walk rate is equally ugly at 5.9%. One could sarcastically argue that a guy who doesn’t walk much and strikes out a lot would fit in with the Blue Jays rather nicely, but the truth is, if the club is going to improve, they need to move away from these types of players.
Grichuk does bring an element of speed (Fangraphs rates his Spd at 5.2) and can steal bases, even though he totaled just 6 in 2017.
Grichuk would be what we might call in “imperfect target”. He definitely comes with flaws in his game. In fact, the flaws in his game are enough to make a lot of folks cringe when thinking about the Blue Jays trading for him. But, there is a lot of this idea that makes sense.
Grichuk is still relatively young, he brings outfield versatility, some speed and power. The Blue Jays would be trading for three more seasons of control, too. The Cardinals have so many outfielders, they are hardly in a position of leverage in this potential deal. That is especially so when talking about a guy they demoted just this season. They may have their eye on Josh Donaldson, but you can bet that they are not in a position to ask for anything even close to that.
Randal Grichuk might not be a perfect fit for the Blue Jays, but he certainly does bring elements that one could get used to. Heck, we’ve become used to strike outs around these parts. So, maybe he might be the kind of target for Ross Atkins. He’s younger, cheaper and controllable.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.