Might there finally be a little bit of warmth coming from the hot stove? Two trades in under a week? What is this madness?
Apparently, the Toronto Blue Jays thought they need more veteran outfielders on their roster. Just three days after signing Curtis Granderson, they acquired Randal Grichuk from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right-handers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene.
This move shouldn’t come as much of a shock, as Grichuk recently mentioned that he was unhappy with his likely role as the fourth outfielder for the Cardinals this upcoming season. Well, he got his way out of St. Louis, but he has a playing time logjam staring him straight in the eyes north of the border in Toronto.
In addition to old man Grandy, Grichuk will have to battle Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, and Ezequiel Carrera for playing time, as well as youngsters Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford.
If Grichuk had been able to build off his promising rookie campaign in 2015, he’d likely have a starting job already wrapped up and would probably still be in St. Louis. However, his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS have all dropped in two straight seasons. Last season, Grichuk hit 22 home runs with 59 RBI, 53 runs, six steals, and a .238 average in 412 at-bats. Not exactly anything to write home about, but there is some promise here.
Only 28 players made more frequent hard contact than Grichuk’s 40.2% in 2017. That mark placed him right behind sluggers like Jay Bruce, Matt Olson, and Trevor Story. On top of that, Grichuk’s FB % and HR/FB % were both above average and are indicative of 30+ homer potential. On the other side, Grichuk doesn’t make enough contact to sustain a batting average above .250 or so. Basically, his ceiling is Jay Bruce and his floor is an aging Triple-A starter.
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Going back to this playing time situation, it’s likely that center field is already locked up. Pillar is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and that alone will get him the lion’s share of at-bats from the center field position. That leaves two corner spots and four or five guys battling for them.
We can probably rule out Carrera and Pearce who are better suited as bench bats, but that still leaves youngsters Alford and Hernandez. The likely scenario is Grichuk starting in one of the corner outfield spots with Alford heading back to Triple-A for more seasoning. I’m sure Alford’s keeper/dynasty league owners are super thrilled with this trade right about now.
A few years back, a season of .250 and 30 or so home runs would’ve warranted a late-round pick or even a little more. In 2018, that’s barely worth a late-round flier, especially since that’s likely Grichuk’s ceiling.
The only fantasy relevant piece heading to St. Louis is Leone. The 5-foot-11 right-hander reliever had a decent little season for himself in 2017, his first year as a full-time reliever. He posted a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 10.4 K/9 across 70.1 innings for the Blue Jays. If he continues to pitch like that, he could find himself in the mix for saves later in the season.
Greene is a minor league righty with an electric mid-to-upper 90s heater, but no quality secondary offerings and downright crappy control. He once had promise, but he will likely never be more than a middling bullpen arm.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.
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