Earlier this year, the Toronto Blue Jays shed Randal Grichuk and his remaining years by trading him to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for outfielder Raimel Tapia and prospect Adrian Pinto. While the Jays reportedly sent some cash in the deal (an unknown amount), the move also helped Grichuk receive more playing time, as the former Cardinal was squeezed out of the picture on the Blue Jays by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and George Springer.
With Tapia, the Blue Jays got a contact-type hitter with plus speed on the base paths who was looking to shape up as a fourth outfielder amongst the core mentioned above. The Dominican-born Tapia is primarily a corner outfielder but has logged some innings in centre field as well this year.
With Teoscar Hernandez missing time earlier this year on the IL, Tapia found himself suiting up in quite a few games through the first two months of the season It also helped that he hit from the left side (amongst a right-handed heavy lineup) and could be used as a defensive replacement late in the game, whether it be as a pinch runner offensively or taking over in left/right field as necessary.
Through April and May, Tapia collected a .241/.276/.292 slash line through 137 at-bats, sporting one home run, 13 RBI, and a .568 OPS. I remember early on in the campaign some of his at-bats being just pure ugly, as he looked overmatched on occasion and struggled to find a rhythm at the plate.
The Blue Jays made a trade earlier this year for Raimel Tapia, and these past two months have seen the outfielder find a groove at the plate.
That all changed once the season flipped over into June, as the speedy outfielder is not only putting the ball in play at a higher rate but he is also finding some power in his bat as well. Since June 1st, Tapia has amassed a .916 OPS with 12 doubles, four home runs and 22 RBI through 115 at-bats, meaning not only is he playing well, he is currently doing it through fewer at-bats compared to the previous two months (mind you, July is not 100% over but his numbers are still trending to be better).
He really did well this past weekend in Boston during the Blue Jays’ franchise-setting drubbing of the Red Sox on Friday. Tapia made the highlight reels by scoring an inside-the-park home run, finishing the day by going 3 for 7 with one double, one home run, and six RBI. He followed that performance up with a solid outing yesterday during the Blue Jays’ 8-4 victory over the Red Sox, hitting a bases-clearing triple while going 3 for 5 with four RBI total on the day.
Considering Tapia is the bench outfielder in this roster scenario, the Jays will really benefit if he can continue to swing a hot bat moving forward on the year, taking over in the corners as necessary or in centre field if Springer needs an off day and the team doesn’t want to use Bradley Zimmer in centre. He now owns a .286 batting average on the year along with a .726 OPS, and while his defence does come in at -6 bDRS amongst the outfield position, his plus speed on base has been a positive attribute on numerous occasions compared to the three errors he has in the outfield.
For comparison’s sake, Randal Grichuk owns a 248/.293/.393 slash line on the year with nine home runs, 43 RBI, and a .686 OPS through 290 at-bats. He owns an 83 OPS+, 21 points lower than Tapia’s 104 OPS+, but has been the better defender with his -2 bDRS in the outfield this year. Grichuk also has 38 more at-bats than Tapia (290 vs. 252) but sports a slightly lower bWAR at -0.2 compared to Tapia’s -0.1, while making roughly seven million more.
Overall, this trade is turning out to be in the Jays’ favour, especially if Raimel Tapia can continue to hit well over the remainder of the season and use his speed to get the Blue Jays more runs on the board.