Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays Prediction: Randal Grichuk will be a huge steal

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 23: Randal Grichuk
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 23: Randal Grichuk /
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The Blue Jays made a number of moves this offseason, but my prediction is the best move will be the trade for Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals.

If you take a look at the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster from 2017 and compare it to this year, there is a significant amount of change. There are a ton of quality returning pieces to the 25 man roster, but there have been several under the radar additions that have the potential to make a significant impact in Toronto this year.

While none of the new players came as a premium free agent or in a massive trade deal, the sum of the parts have a great deal of potential to make an impact. The Blue Jays shored up their offence by adding players like Curtis Granderson, Yangervis Solarte, Aledmys Diaz, Danny Espinosa, and Gift Ngoepe, and improved their pitching staff with the likes of Jaime Garcia, Seung-hwan Oh, John Axford, Tyler Clippard, and more.

Arguably the “best” addition to the roster would be right fielder Randal Grichuk, who came over from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Dominic Leone and Conner Greene in a trade that went down on January 19th. Grichuk had spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals and produced a .249/.298/.488 slash line across 1291 at bats, averaging 21 home runs and 58 RBI across the three seasons that he was a pseudo full-timer with the red birds.

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The biggest appeal is the untapped potential that could exist in the 26 year old, who openly admitted that he looks forward to regular playing time in Toronto, and hopefully a regular position on defence as well. Grichuk is a capable defensive outfielder who has spent time in all three outfield positions, but is expected to be the regular in right field, taking over for lone time Blue Jays’ legend Jose Bautista. They’re big shoes to fill, but after a season full of struggle from “Joey Bats”, the bar has certainly been lowered from what it would have been a few years ago.

Grichuk comes to Toronto with three years of control remaining on his contract, and is set to earn 2.8 million in 2018 after hitting arbitration for the first time. That alone is a huge difference from Bautista last year, who earned 18 million in 2017 while producing his worst season since joining the Blue Jays. The 15.2 million in savings is huge, but so is the +1.3 dWAR rating difference (according to baseballreference.com), and that’s before you consider the offensive production.

The numbers on baseballreference.com also tell a story of an improvement on offence in right field, especially after a season that Bautista set a new club record for strikeouts in a single season. Grichuk struggles with a similar problem, but last season he posted a +0.1 oWAR rating, while Bautista dropped down to -0.9. It was a drastic drop for the Blue Jays legend, who had posted oWAR marks of 6.8 and 5.1 in 2014 and 2015, but couldn’t improve from his injury riddled 2016 season, even after playing in 157 games last year.

It adds up to an improvement from Bautista to Grichuk, even if the former Cardinal doesn’t take a step forward. However, that seems like a real possibility for the native of Rosenberg, Texas, especially now that he shouldn’t be competing for regular playing time. He’ll be pushed by minor leaguers like Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford to be sure, but the right field job is his as long as he performs well enough to keep it.

He’ll need to perform for sure, but it would be surprising if the Blue Jays didn’t give him every opportunity to do just that as a regular in the lineup. And at just 26 years old, there is plenty of reason to believe he can do just that.

In a worst case scenario, if he is unable to improve from his previous numbers, he’ll still be an improvement over what the Blue Jays received in right field over the last couple of years, at a fraction of the price.

Next: Blue Jays confirm that Ngoepe will make the team

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