Randal Grichuk Is Above Average for the Blue Jays

Despite having failed to record more than 500 plate appearances in any of the past three seasons, outfielder Randal Grichuk has nevertheless produced a total of 6.8 WAR during that same interval — or just over two wins per season. Players who reliably produce two wins in a season are average players. One could make the case with some ease that Randal Grichuk is an average player.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, however, average isn’t sufficient to guarantee a place in the outfield. Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, and Tommy Pham will start for the club this year and all are superior to Grichuk. Jose Martinez is another outfield option, and he just authored a breakout season. Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill are loitering in the halls somewhere. That abundance of talent is what allowed the club to exchange Stephen Piscotty for a future MVP. And now the Cards have done a similar thing with another totally competent, but not sufficiently excellent, outfield piece.

The details, courtesy of Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi:

As noted, a league-average player is below average for the Cardinals’ outfield. For the Blue Jays, though? For the Blue Jays, things are different. Consider, by way of illustration, the depth-chart image below, originally published in Toronto’s ZiPS projections.

That was the state of the club at the beginning of December. It was pretty clear, upon a brief examination of that defensive lineup, what required attention. It was clear even to this author, who is an idiot. Of the Blue Jays’ roster, I wrote the following:

[T]he club would probably benefit most immediately from some assistance at a corner-outfield spot. Neither Teoscar Hernandez (553 PA, 1.2 zWAR) nor Steve Pearce (318, 0.8) profile as anything much better than a strong bench piece at the moment, nor do any superior options exist on the major-league roster.

The organization began acquiring some of that assistance for the outfield a few days ago, signing Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5-million deal. Granderson is probably something less than an average player. But he is, at worst, average for the Blue Jays outfield. Grichuk is something better than that. He’s an actual average player. Which, for this outfield, is entirely sufficient to earn a place in the lineup.

That’s not all there is to say about this trade. Jeff Sullivan will have more tomorrow, it seems like, and it will likely provide some greater understanding for the implications of the deal. Eric Longenhagen is toiling over a report on Conner Greene at this very moment. The purpose of this post was to announce that this deal has occurred. That lone criterion has been satisfied.

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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I hereby submit this comment, acknowledging that I read the article. Good doing business with you!

I think this is a good trade for both teams. Grichuk has shown the potential to play at a 2013 Colby Rasmus level, and his solid defense and base running skills (not base stealing speed so much as good instincts) give him an acceptable floor even when he’s swinging through off-speed pitches in the dirt over and over and over again, for years straight. He’s good enough to be a starter and he’ll benefit from being on a team that can’t Matheny him to the minor leagues when he hits a rough patch or two.

On the other side, Leone instantly becomes one of the top options in the Cards’ bullpen and Greene offers depth in the system, potentially as another good bullpen option in a year or two.