5. Whit Merrifield (UTL) for Max Castillo (RHP) and Samad Taylor (UTL)
A confusing trade initially, but as the weeks went on afterwards, Whit Merrifield‘s purpose became clear. With Springer being restricted to DH duties, a capable and experienced presence was needed to take reps in the outfield, and in came Merrifield. On days where Tapia takes reps in centre, Whit is also capable of playing a solid second base.
His 16 games as a Blue Jay haven’t knocked anyone’s socks off. A .229/.302/.292 slash line isn’t overly impressive, but his above average defensive ability and quickness have been a breath of fresh air when he’s in the lineup. Whit will continue to play a similar role down the stretch, and also seemingly going into the next few years, as he does not become a free agent until at least after 2023.
The haul given up for the veteran utility man wasn’t overly impressive. RHP Max Castillo and minor league UTL Samad Taylor went the other way in the deal. Castillo had thrown some important innings for the Jays prior to that point in the season, but wasn’t a major player in present or future plans. Taylor was having an admirable season in AAA, but again, not a major factor in Toronto’s future plans.
4. Raimel Tapia (OF) and Adrian Pinto (UTL) for Randal Grichuk (OF) and cash
This swap during Spring Training was a bit of a shock. Raimel Tapia and Randal Grichuk are opposites of each other. Tapia, the contact heavy, strikeout resistant player, while Grichuk utilized a more all or nothing approach that led to inconsistency. Regardless, both served similar roles, a reserve outfielder capable of offensive contribution, and can play all three outfield spots.
Tapia has been somewhat mediocre during his time in Toronto. Outside of a few electric moments, including a walkoff sac-fly and an inside the park grand slam, his 86 OPS+ isn’t quite what a club would want from an outfielder receiving a fair amount of playing time. The more underrated part of the acquisition for the Blue Jays was the least known name in the deal, Adrian Pinto. Pinto, a free agent signee from Puerto Rico, was coming off of a season in Rookie Ball which saw him post a 1.029 OPS while spending time in the middle infield and centre field. While taking a step back during his time in Dunedin this year, the tools are still there for him to be a productive player.
In terms of the cost for the Jays, Grichuk and about nine million in cash hasn’t proved too steep of a cost. The former Blue Jay wields a slashline of .275/.318/.371 over 112 games played this season. While Grichuk’s overall numbers aren’t awful, his .598 OPS on the road shows that he’s getting a friendly boost from the altitude at Coors Field.
This deal served a purpose for both clubs, as the Rockies needed more pop in the outfield, and the Blue Jays sought to diversify their offensive makeup. However, the addition of Pinto in the deal grants the Blue Jays an edge in my books.