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Photo Credit: Blue Jays

Blue Jays send Conner Greene and Dominic Leone to St. Louis for OF Randal Grichuk

Hey look, #TransactionFriday is back! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Uhhhhh… in this case? I’m not sure!

The Blue Jays pulled the trigger on an unexpected deal, shipping hard-throwing pitching prospect Conner Greene and breakout reliever Dominic Leone to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Randal Grichuk.

So you’ll be getting my analysis for now!

Grichuk is a right-handed outfielder who had a 94 wRC+ in 2017 and 103 wRC+ in 2016. He was worth 1.4 WAR in 2017 and 2.2 WAR in 2016. He plays all three outfield positions, but spent most of his innings in 2017 in either left or right field. Grichuk also clubbed 22 homers in 2017 and, much like Kevin Pillar, strikes out a bunch and never walks.

Leone, completely out of the blue, had a really good season for the Jays last year. He was originally the guy with options who rode the bus back-and-forth from Toronto to Buffalo every week, but ended up carving out a role as one of Toronto’s best righties out of the ‘pen. He posted a 2.56 ERA in 70 1/3 innings while striking out 10.4 per nine.

Greene is an enigmatic prospect with a lot of upside. He can touch 100 mph on his fastball, but has serious command issues. It seemed inevitable that Greene would soon be converted to the ‘pen. Last year, Greene posted a 5.29 ERA at Double-A while walking 5.6 batters per nine and striking out 6.2 batters per nine.

So this means that the Jays are pretty loaded up in the outfield now. They have Kevin Pillar, Zeke Carrera, Steve Pearce, and the newly-acquired Curtis Granderson and Grichuk as options in the outfield, with Teoscar Hernandez, Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith Jr., and Anthony Alford likely starting the season in Triple-A.

I did a thing the other day about where Toronto was going to go after signing Granderson. I figured the team was better off spending money on the starting rotation than they were in the outfield. They made an upgrade, but it didn’t cost them a hell of a lot, as Grichuk carries a $2,600,000 price tag in 2018 and is arbitration eligible after the season.

I mean, Grichuk isn’t exactly the most exciting acquisition, but the Jays didn’t pay a massive price to acquire him. It seems they sold high on Leone’s breakout season and lacked faith in Greene’s ability to throw a strike consistently. Ultimately they got themselves more cheap, controllable outfield depth and another guy who can hit for power.

But is he much better than Teoscar Hernandez would have been in the same role? Better enough to validate dealing Leone and Greene? I liked Leone a lot last season, but relievers are extremely unpredictable year to year. In 2017, Dominic Leone was worth 1.5 fWAR while Grichuk was worth 1.4. But between 2015 and 2016 Leone was worth -0.7 and Grichuk was worth 5.3. This could work nicely as a sell high, buy low for the Blue Jays.

So, what now? Are the Jays going to dangle Kevin Pillar for pitching? Is one of Zeke Carrera or Steve Pearce on the way out? We shall see! And when we do get the full picture as to what they have going on, it’ll be easier to judge.

If the Jays can find a way to move Pearce’s $6.25 million salary for 2018, they can operate with an outfield of Pillar, Zeke, Granderson, and Grichuk, using the freed up cash to sign a middle-of-the-rotation starter. In doing so, they’d also be able to slide Joe Biagini back into the ‘pen, effectively replacing Leone in the process.

  • justaregularjaysfan

    I would really push hard to move Morales right now. I think that improves their situation immensely, and would allow you a lot more flexibility with their team, allowing them to DH tulo, travis, JD, martin, when they need a breather to keep their bats in the lineup.

    Also, Cobb is still on the market and would like to see the Jays get him on a 3-4 year deal

    • Knuckleballs

      No one will touch a 1 demensional player with a large contract remaining. Jays would have to eat a ton. And as of right know really no one in the league is looking to DH – Rays are but Jose will be available on the cheap come spring training

  • AD

    Ughhh, this is so fucking mediocre!! Our Of is not good enough! Why the fuck do we need another pillar type hitter that cant walk but with more power? Up to this point, the jays moves were solid but this is not good enough. Cain would have been much, much better. Just trade JD for fuck sakes and retool.

    • justaregularjaysfan

      Cain would have also cost at least 15 mil per season more, is 31, and would have wanted 5 years. The jays have so many holes to fill that they can’t just spend a bunch of money on one guy. They need to spread their money around. They are getting decent to good players for not a lot of money allowing them to fill as many holes as possible, and hoping that the team performs well together. Tbh they’re in a situation where I can’t blame them for this method of operation

      • AD

        I think if you offer cain 3 yrs at $60m and backload it, he takes it at this point. And its something the jays can afford if they can move pearce ( which shouldnt be hard to do)

        • justaregularjaysfan

          Do you know that though. Also does he want to play for the jays. This isn’t a computer simulation and we know nothing of what happens behind the scenes. Maybe they felt that the negotiations were taking too long or offers on the table greater than the one they made, or they got the feeling he didnt want to play in toronto. All of these are reasons for them to move on and get a different player

      • heatdreamer

        Cain adds an additional War for an additonal salary of $13 MM. What if the Jays sign Arrieta, Darvish for $22 MM for 5 years Trade Pearce or Morales.
        Than the Jays are at $160-165 MM. With Darvish, Stroman, Happ, Estrada, Sanchez . Biagini moves to the Bullpen, yesterday’s Milb moves up.

    • Cecilrosa

      Randal Grichuk age 25 season: .238/.285/.473 BB% 5.9 K% 30.1
      Player B age 25 season: .250/.272/.378 BB% 3.2 K% 26.4
      Player B age 26 season: .315/.358/.553 BB% 6.3 K% 26.3

      Both Grichuk and player B struggled with the strikeouts and walks and both players got traded going into their age 26 season. Both players were profiled as good prospects with excellent power. Who was player B? J.D. Martinez.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Fans who think the offseason is going to be about giving up draft picks, international signing money, and hundreds of millions of dollars to buy some 32 year old’s declining years are going to be disappointed. Owners and GM”s have learned. You might too. You want to see mediocre? Have a look at Lorenzo Cain in two or three years on a sucker deal.

  • TGreg

    It’s hard to judge this without knowing how it will all come together; but I like the idea of selling high on Leone; Greene didn’t even make Baseball America’s top 10 Jays prospects this winter – apparently he had little interest in taking direction last season; I’m okay with moving him too. The question is can Grichuk be a real contributor? He’s solid defensively, apparently a good baserunner tho not a SB threat, and only 26. And it lets Teoscar put in some more work at Buffalo. If Grichuk can reduce the Ks even a bit, I think this comes out a win.

  • BlueJayWay

    “and, much like Kevin Pillar, strikes out a bunch and never walks.”

    You might want to fix the first part of that. Pillar doesn’t strike out a bunch. Grichuk is basically a corner OF version of Pillar with more power and more Ks.

  • Knuckleballs

    Is it package time to trade for a starter – with suplus beyond in the OF now. Any ideas on who they could trade for 4th or 5th starter – or do you see a large package of OFs ready going to Marlins for Yellich???

  • Cecilrosa

    Having 3 years of Grichuk is interesting. He has good exit velocities plays good defence at all 3 positions and has had only minor injuries the past couple of years. He hasn’t really gotten much playing time with only 478 plate appearances in 2016 being the most, but he’s shown he can have a lot of value even with only 350-450 plate appearances in 2015/2016. He doesn’t have dramatic splits and was 110 wRC+ from June 1st until the end of the year. He looks like a interesting buy low candidate where if he can get regular at-bats and learn to walk more or drop the strike outs a bit he could be a regular .800 OPS outfielder with plus defence.

    I wonder what this means for Pillar, Carrera and Pearce now.

  • breasteve

    Grichuk is nice depth but not the offensive upgrade Jays need. Leone + Greene is higher than I expected. Cards advertised they wanted to move him last season.

  • Chilango

    This is what the Cardinals blog had to say: Randal Grichuk looked to be one of the best fourth outfielders in baseball on the Cardinals, sitting behind Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler, and Marcell Ozuna on the Cardinals depth chart. While Grichuk had been a starter off and on during his Cardinals career, the 26-year-old was going to be a bit of a luxury item for the Cardinals, a starter-level player on the bench. That is no longer the case as the Cardinals have traded Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays,

  • The Original Mark

    I think the inclusion of Greene in this deal cements that both the Jays and the industry have soured on him. He’s just the little bit of insurance that the Cards need against Leone regressing to get the deal done. I don’t like Grishuk, and would rather have Leone in the bullpen and pearce, Carrera, or Hernadez playing with more cash, but I agree we have to see what comes next before judging because surely something else is coming.

    Never has a larger, more forgetable, similarly flawed group of OF been assembled on one team.

  • ice_hawk10

    meh… i like that he’s young and has some control. his power potential gives him some upside and the Jays have had some luck with players like that. at least he’s good defensively, so he doesn’t have to hit a ton to be worth something.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        I’d take that bet. Lynn is coming off a career worst year and is two years removed from TJ. His k rate, bb rate and hr rate were the worst of his career. And he wants a long term deal and costs draft pick and international signing pool compensation. His era hides a .244 babip which won’t be repeated. He should come out around 3/25 million and is looking for two to three times that as a guaranteed total. Pass

        • Teddy Ballgame

          Fair enough, but we do need a starter, and I doubt we pay up for Darvish or Cobb. Lynn isn’t ideal, but he’d be lower cost (relatively) which seems to be a big consideration for this offseason.

          • Nice Guy Eddie

            I agree, we need a starter. Team Darvish no doubt still has dreams of 6 or 7 years and 150-200 million. I think they’ll be disappointed, though I imagine when he goes to the Cubs he’ll still pull in some serious money. I doubt very much that Toronto and Canada is on his radar nor is he on the Jays’. Cobb is more interesting. In a real world, I could see Cobb getting 3×16 or 17. His team though will still be looking for much more than that (didn’t Ubaldo end up with 64 from the Orioles?), and even more still to come to Toronto. If it was just the money maybe, but it’s hard to see giving up amateur draft and international signing capability on top of the inflated salary and the border premium. My take, anyway.

  • Kris

    First thing, these two deals have to be the side effects of the Cards harassing the Jays about Donaldson. It got them talking and they saw a few fits.

    As for the deal I am not sure about Grichuck long-term. There is an issue with OBP and K but he is nothing like Pillar. Pillar is a swing first ask questions later type (lots of contact but not many ks) while Grichuck is about raw power who Ks a lot and doesn’t walk. Plus Pillar is not going to get better while Grichuck is still 26. Moving him from St Louis to Toronto will help that power. He is closer to Khris Davis type with less power and much better defense. He will improve the Jays defense in the OF and give them a good fielding OF. Also he is one of those weird RHBs who hits right-hand pitching much better than LHP, it is like picking up a LHB.

    But but I am worry about the K/BB and OBP. Plus i think Leone will be an ace setup pitcher and trading him creates a hole in the pen. Greene’s ratios are terrible so unless he become a new pitcher in the pen I don’t think he is a lost.

    But I hope this means a good starter is coming to the Jays in the next month.

    • Dexxter

      Not exactly.

      Crick is a former top project that’s regressed…. so you have to think he has more upside than Greene…. who also regressed but from a much lower point.

      Also Giants traded a high upside OF with 6 years of control with Crick. Leone is a breakout reliever with 3(?) years of control? Relievers are very volatile… so he could pumpkin again next year. Which is more valuable depends on your perspective… but their definitely different assets.

      Plus Jays got 3 years of control over Grichuk compared to McCutcheons 1.

      Jays aren’t giving up assets to get players that help only the 2018 team.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Tooting Stephen Brunt’s (and Andrew’s) horn a bit here. Here’s a post from November before the Rule V. https://bluejaysnation.com/2017/11/02/brunt-blair-and-shi-with-some-interesting-thoughts-on-conner-green-and-vlad-guerrero-jr/

    Brunt is bang on in terms of Greene. The FO doesn’t believe in him, but they’re not going to give him away for free, so he’ll be protected in the Rule V then dealt. Exactly what happened here. The FO turned a guy who they essentially have no faith in plus a relief pitcher they picked up on waivers, for a guy who’ll get a lot of playing time in the corner outfield. Lot’s to like there. It’s hard to make a competitive team out of a large stripped farm system and few tradeable assets, but they’re doing their darnedest

  • You really to to squint to see downsides to this deal. It gives them a viable, legit MLB-quality OF. Not top tier by any means, but if the regulars are Pillar, grandy and grich, with Pearce, Zeke, Hernandez/Alford as Patton options or injury replacements, that’s something that you can at the very least work with. Having options to adjust lineups is key… To be able to that by not only not eating into their remaining budget significantly or using pieces of high value in trade is a win.

    And if all this is simply laying the groundwork for a bigger acquisition, even better.

    OPTIONS.

  • Mule or etc...

    I’m stealing this from commenter Damsaso over at Fangraphs because it’s pretty to look at:

    Career

    Yelich (21-25): 2812pa, .356babip, 121wrc+, 4.0war/650
    Grichuk (22-25): 1386pa, .313babip, 108wrc+, 3.4fwar/650