Blue Jays: Top five extension candidates on the current roster
#1- Randal Grichuk
Out of all the “veteran” players on the Blue Jays roster today, no one makes a better long term fit than Randal Grichuk, at least in my opinion.
The 27 year old got off to about as bad of a start as he could have feared as a Blue Jay, hitting .106/.208/.210 in his first 24 starts, but he managed to turn things around in a big way after returning from the disabled list in June. He ended up swatting a career high 25 home runs and 32 doubles, and slashed .280/.326/.569 after the All-Star break. Throw in some solid outfield defence and he managed 2.2 bWAR despite the wretched start to his Blue Jays career.
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I wrote about how I think Grichuk is going to take a step toward stardom this season, and I really do believe that’s going to be the case. I’m not predicting that he’ll end up being an MVP contender necessarily, but given the way the roster is constructed I could see him being a crucial piece of the puzzle, both now and in the future. He’s set to make five million this season and hit arbitration for the third and final time in 2020, before he’ll become a free agent for the first time. That said, I believe it would be wise of the Blue Jays to prevent him from ever getting there, and the faster they sign him, the better the deal is going to be.
Think back to when Jose Bautista got a five year, 65 million dollar contract after the 2010 season. He’d really only had one big year at that point, and some people thought it was a little premature for the Blue Jays to hand a relatively unproven hitter a five year deal. The gamble paid off though and it was anything but a fluke, as Bautista went on to put himself in franchise lore as the all-time leader in home runs with 288 in a Blue Jay uniform, and lead the AL in home runs again in 2011 in the first year of his new deal.
I don’t expect that Grichuk is going to break out to that degree, but I don’t think he’s going to be agreeing to a five million dollar contract at this time a year from now. There’s certainly wisdom in the idea of seeing if the improvements that he made from June on are real and if he can make the adjustments long term, but if he does then he’s going to be a very valuable player, especially to supplement the young talent.
I actually sincerely doubt that any extension talks have begun with Grichuk at this stage, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his performance warranted Atkins and Shapiro to start thinking that way mid-season. They do have the benefit of two more years of contract control at this point, but if they decide that Grichuk is a good fit for the long term picture, looking him up sooner than later is likely going to be the financially beneficial move.
Likelihood of an extension right now: 6.5/10
It’s also entirely possible that this front office doesn’t see an extension candidate at all, at least not among those with real MLB experience. We don’t really know at this point, and it’s entirely possible that the 2019 season could go a long way in making those decisions. And as exciting as the prospects may be, hopefully the front office doesn’t lose sight of what some of the key veterans could offer, both now and in the future.