Randal Grichuk has a starting gig and a great opportunity with the Rockies, so let’s resist the urge to get upset when he thrives in Colorado.
Yeah, I’m making a not-so-bold prediction before the season starts, but I think there are good things on the horizon for Grichuk, who was traded to the Rockies last month in exchange for two players, highlighted by Raimel Tapia coming back to the Blue Jays. It was a swap that makes a lot of sense for both sides, something we’ve talked about here at Jays Journal before.
While Tapia will likely have a reasonably important role with the Jays this year, he might have a tough time keeping up with Grichuk on a head to head basis. That’s not exactly how trades work, but I have a feeling there will be some sour grapes among Blue Jays fans if and when Grichuk fares well in Colorado, which is what I suspect will happen for the 30 year old outfielder.
What the Rockies give him is something that he no longer had in Toronto, and that’s regular playing time. They do have a glut of outfielders in Colorado as well, but I doubt that many will stand in the way of regular playing for Grichuk, so long as he’s producing of course. Blue Jays fans are all too familiar with the way that Grichuk often starts out hot to begin each season, and if he repeats that pattern then he’ll be sure to win over a lot of his new fan base. He’s off to a great start with his new team, entering Saturday with a spring slash line of .364/.440/.682 with a pair of home runs over just 22 at-bats.
Also working in his favour is something that’s long been discussed in baseball circles, and that’s the impact of playing home games at Coors Field. With the elevation difference at the Rockies’ home field, offence has always been fairly easy to come by, and often we see inflated home numbers for their players. It’s the reason that Trevor Story was viewed as a bit of a risk on this year’s free agent market, basically because of his significantly different home/away splits. For a power hitter like Grichuk, it should certainly play in his favour.
It also looks like the Rockies view him as someone who could be an impact hitter in their lineup. It’s hard to glean too much from spring training lineups, but with a lineup mostly made up of regulars on Saturday, Grichuk was hitting fifth behind C.J. Cron. The Rockies could have a sneaky-decent offence, and it’ll go a long way if Grichuk can provide some middle of the order pop.
Getting back to the trade, let’s not forget that Tapia wasn’t brought to Toronto to be a star, or likely even a lineup regular. Grichuk’s skill set was fairly redundant along side George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are all power-hitting, right-handed batters. Tapia’s game is built more around speed, defence, and of course, he hits from the left side as well. They’re very different players who will likely find themselves in uneven roles, so judging the trade isn’t going to be an easy comparison.
Regardless, if and when Grichuk has the best season of his career, seeing regular playing time while moving to the hitter’s haven that is Coors Field, let’s try to simply be happy for the former Blue Jay. I’m not suggesting that the Blue Jays made a mistake by trading him away, I just think he’s going to do whatever he can to make it feel that way, and I have a feeling he’s in for a big year. If all goes according to plan for the Blue Jays in the American League, hopefully most fans will barely notice.