Earlier this year, the Blue Jays made a few moves to improve the roster and bolster the bench corps, most notably moving four prospects to Oakland for third baseman Matt Chapman. Ross Atkins wasn’t done there though, as he also made a deal for outfielder Raimel Tapia and prospect Adrian Pinto from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Randal Grichuk and cash, with the Jays retaining roughly $10 million worth of his remaining two years.
Grichuk had fallen down the Jays’ outfield depth charts, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, and Teoscar Hernández slated to make most of the starts. There was likely a scenario where the club could have rotated Grichuk in with the rest of the outfield when looking at off days and potential injuries (with all three missing time this season due to various ailments) and potentially in the DH spot on occasion. The former Cardinal was known to go on hot and cold streaks over the course of a full season, struggling to find consistency in the batter’s box.
Overall, this deal likely worked more in Grichuk’s favour as well, as he would be able to get regular playing time with the Rockies while also getting the added benefit of hitting at Coors Field, widely known as a hitter’s ballpark.
This year, Grichuk appeared in 140 games and posted a .259/.299/.425 slash line through 506 at-bats, authoring a .724 OPS in the process. He also added 24 extra-base hits and an additional19 home runs to the tune of 73 RBI while walking 24 times compared to 124 strikeouts. The walk-to-strikeout rates are nothing new to Grichuk, as the righty-batter has always been one to avoid the walks and try to put the ball in play.
Defensively, Grichuk spent the majority of the season in right field (80 games started) with another 48 games started in centre. He posted a -1 and a -3 bDRS in each position respectively, finishing the year with a .981 fielding percentage with five errors and three assists. The outfielder also got an inning on the mound when the Rockies were getting drubbed by the Marlins, pitching a clean inning that retired all three batters.
Comparing Grichuk to the 2022 Blue Jays’ outfield
In terms of games and at-bats, Grichuk led the entire Blue Jays outfield except for Springer and his at-bat total, with the Jays’ centre fielder gaining some bats at the DH spot when the elbow injuries limited him defensively.
Both Springer and Hernández bested Grichuk in the extra-base, home run, and RBI categories while Gurriel Jr. only had more extra-base hits as his power dropped this season compared to last year. All four Jays outfielders boasted better slash lines as well, with Grichuk besting Gurriel Jr. and Tapia in the slugging category and just Tapia in terms of OPS (52 points higher).
Comparing OPS+, Grichuk narrowly beat Tapia by one point but trailed the remaining Jays outfielders, sitting 21 points behind Gurriel Jr.
Defensive Stats Comparison – Grichuk vs. Blue Jays
Overall, the only Jays outfielder who really blew Grichuk away was Gurriel Jr., who was eight points higher in terms of DRS. The remaining Jays outfielders were similar to the former Jays outfielder, with Hernández sitting two points higher while both Springer and Tapia tied him at -4.
Grichuk had the most errors of the group (five) while also having fewer assists, sitting one below Tapia at three on the year. The Jays outfielders (minus Tapia) also contributed to at least one double play this season, while Grichuk contributed to zero. When looking at Outs Above Average (OAA), Grichuk posted a -1 combined this season, besting Gurriel Jr. (-2), Hernández (-4), and Tapia (-5) while Springer (1) was the only one who posted a better OAA.
The one thing Grichuk had going for him was he had more time in the field, besting all the Jays outfielders in terms of games started, innings, putouts, and chances. This was attributed more to the Jays players all spending time on the IL this year (except for Tapia, who was more so a bench player with increased reps this season) and using the others in the designated hitter spot rather than in the outfield.
However, while Grichuk did have more chances and innings, the Jays contributed more with their plays in terms of assists and double plays in less time.
Overall, on the offensive side of the coin, the Jays’ core outfielders outshined Grichuk in almost every statistical category but he makes up some ground defensively, not only just with the better OAA but also health-wise, spending the most time in the outfield and avoiding the IL this year.
In terms of bWAR, Grichuk came in at 0.3, while almost all the Jays outfielders ranked higher: Tapia (0.2), Gurriel (2.2), Hernández (2.7), and Springer (4.0).
It seems like both teams won this trade in the end, as Tapia served his role as the lefty-bat and speed bench threat the Jays were ultimately looking for (while gaining a solid prospect in Pinto) while Grichuk was able to get regular playing time in Colorado, rather than sit on the bench for the Jays with some DH at-bats sprinkled in.