I’m on my way to show up fashionably late at the Jays’s Winter Fest, but I figured I’d better get at least a few thoughts up about yesterday’s trade — first and foremost of which is… there’s a lot to digest here.
I mean, I get it. But If the Blue Jays were building an outfield from scratch and on the cheap, I think I’d maybe get it a little better. Grichuk isn’t the sort of batter you want a lineup full of, I don’t think. The low on-base, high strikeout thing can be dreadful to watch, especially when that guy’s power game is in a lull. But Grichuk does offer serious power, an is a better hitter than he showed in 2017 (a .234 BABIP against left-handers helped sink him to a 70 wRC+ in that split last year). And I can appreciate that there’s some real nice value there overall.
He’s like a better version of Teoscar Hernández, who brings with him an actual track record, too. But is he so much better as to require the club paying a premium just to acquire him? Obviously the Blue Jays think so.
Maybe we shouldn’t forget how Hernández was acquired — the bounty for Francisco Liriano at last July’s trade deadline. How big could the market for Liriano have been? Did the Jays really find a player they wanted to bring into their organization and had long term plans for, or did they maybe just see Hernández as the piece they were being offered that had the most value in the industry? Is he here just to ultimately be moved?
As much as I know the Jays value depth, in moving to bring in a guy three years of control to be so directly in Teoscar’s path feels like a pretty strong signal.
Then again, it’s not like there aren’t other outfielders the Jays could move to create a better space for Hernández and Grichuk. Teoscar could certainly provide better defence in the Steve Pearce role, and would his bat even be that much worse? Given the difference in cost and what saving money on Pearce could help the club do elsewhere, it’s a thought.
Or what about Kevin Pillar? Grichuk’s defence isn’t Pillar’s, but even with the flaws in his bat he’s a much more valuable hitter. Grichuk could cover centre passably — maybe more than passably — until either Anthony Alford or Dalton Pompey force their way onto the team.
More than anyone, though, it’s probably Ezequiel Carrera who looks to be affected by this. As it stands Granderson will play left field against right-handed pitchers, and I think Grichuk, despite hitting from the right side, is going to get a chance to take most of those at-bats in right. Carrera’s 123 wRC+ against right-handers was impressive last year, and vital for a Jays team that struggled up and down the lineup in that split. But Grichuk has a 110 wRC+ in his career vs. RHP, and if this is the Jays signaling that they don’t buy that Zeke is ever going to be able to do a thing like that again, I’m very OK with that.
All of this is to say that clearly they’re not done making moves — maybe they are in the outfield, but certainly not in general, as Grichuk’s minimal salary gives them space to keep adding, with pitching looking now like a likely target — which makes it hard to analyze just yet.
And as for the cost? I don’t think they’ve ever said anything about it, but I’ve just always got the sense that Conner Greene might not be their guy. The arm is something to dream on, but the command is obviously a concern and he’s kept slipping back on the public top prospects lists and trending toward being a reliever. Add in the Charlie Sheen stuff and… I don’t know… just maybe not much of a surprise to see him moved before he had another chance to struggle at Double-A. And Leone? A really valuable relief piece, but found money, no guarantee to repeat his success, a bit of a luxury, and I understand the club seeing the value of turning that into an everyday player. And clearly that’s what they think Grichuk is.
Time will tell on that, I guess. They Jays say their internal metrics really like Grichuk, but if those are the same metrics that saw great things for Kendrys
Morales — who I’m actually still optimistic on — or Melvin Upton, uh… I think fans can be forgiven for being a little nervous. Still! Those barrels! Grichuk in 2017 produced a barrel more frequently that even Teoscar Hernández — and all but a handful of big leaguers — in an actually meaningful sample, or closer to it. There could be something there. It might get ugly at times, but even when it does, the Jays’ right field defence is going to look a lot better in 2018 than it did 2017, which will do quite nicely.
Curious to see what’s next.