Whoa. That was my reaction to the news on Twitter today that the Blue Jays had acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk from the St. Louis Cardinals for righthanded pitchers Conner Greene and Dominic Leone.
We’ve acquired OF Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals in exchange for RHP Dominic Leone and RHP Conner Greene.
Last season, Grichuk hit 22 home runs with 59 RBI and 25 doubles in 122 games. pic.twitter.com/624iYWvEx2
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 19, 2018
Grichuk is a 26-year-old outfielder from Texas who was drafted with the 24th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in 2009. Despite getting selected one pick ahead of Mike Trout, he hasn’t quite worked out as well and hasn’t made the big leagues until he was traded to the Cardinals after the 2013 season.
Grichuk has played parts of four season with the Cardinals in the major leagues and had his best results in 2015 when he played 103 games and hit .276/.329/.548 with 23 doubles, seven triples and 17 home runs in 350 plate appearances. Since then, however, Grichuk has lost a lot of points on his batting average (hitting .240 and .238) over the past two seasons while seeing his walk rate drop to 5.9% while his strikeout rate has settled near 30%. In both of the past two seasons, Grichuk’s BABIP has been much closer to the league average rate at .294 and .293 respectively while in 2015 it would seem that he was getting pretty lucky with a .365 BABIP.
From what I can tell, he’s spent a lot of time at both corner outfield positions and has gotten good write ups for his reliability and his arm. Scouts also love his “reckless abandon” that he plays with and Baseball Prospectus noted that he’s a “quality athlete with the tools to be a good player even without that aggressiveness, but his game plays up a touch because of the approach.”
That said, he has always had strikeout issues. And the fact that he’s not walking a ton and has had OBPs under .300 for the past two seasons (.289 and .285) is worrisome.
Emily had just written about the fantastic season that Leone, 26, had had in 2017 for the Blue Jays and that obviously increased his value. Leone, in his first consistent big league action since 2014 with Seattle, had a 2.56 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, striking out 81 batters and walking just 23 in 70 1/3 innings of work.
Conner Greene, 22, is the epitome of the Hollywood pitcher with the electric arm. Touted for his 100 mph+ velocities but also his troubles with control and consistency, Greene has been working to establish himself in Double-A for the better part of two seasons. While he has struggled at the level, there have been flashes of brilliance, particularly when he came out of the bullpen in the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2017.
My current view on this trade (please change my mind, Mr. Grichuk) is that the Blue Jays have surrendered a substantial pitching investment for a hitter who may shore up some defense and hit some home runs but won’t help push this team closer towards the playoffs. In some ways, he’s a guy with more major league experience but a similar offensive profile to Teoscar Hernandez and so why give up two young pitchers for another player with a similar profile?
What do you think about this trade?
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