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Quick Thoughts On the Grichuk Trade

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.

  • Guzman's Jheri Curl

    Meh. My initial feeling was that the price was a little high, but the depth of younger/athletic controllable OFs now with breakout potential hopefully means somebody surprises/emerges in 2018 and beyond.

    • Guzman's Jheri Curl

      That article is garbage in terms of insight…all batting average and RBI references to judge his performance. He wasn’t great last year, but low BABIP and solid barrels and exit velo #s and his def value indicate there could be better “baseball card” stats in the future.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Leone is a relief pitcher picked off waivers last year with a track record of one season. Your post reminds me of Bob Dylan’s line “When your gravity fails and negativity won’t pull you through.” If you can’t like this trade, you’re lost and commenting on the wrong sport.

      • jerjapan

        Except that Leone has a track record of two outstanding seasons, not one, and he made it to the bigs after blazing through the minors in two dominant seasons. He was intriguing even as a waiver claim last year – he’s a legit commodity right now. Leone alone is light for Grichuk, but Leone plus Greene is arguably an overpay.

        • Jays of Thunder

          Isn’t that’s a uncertainty a good sign that the trade is a pretty even exchange of value?

          I read it as a fairly clear incremental improvement overall 2018, with some potential for a bigger increase. The new scouting report on Greene at FG rates his control at 30 on the 20-80 scale. He could get it, but it feels like even odds that his value doesn’t increase from where it is now.

          A 2019 outfield of Pillar, Grichuk and Alford would be above average to elite defensively. Even in 2018, a mix of Pillar, Grichuk and Granderson, with Hernandez as 4th OF looks a couple wins better than 2017 on defense alone.

    • Chilango

      Maybe Grichuk still has some upside. He is only 26 and the Jays are betting on that. For what it’s worth, the Cardinals’ blog was high on him. They had this: “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.”

  • Wuckin'Pa'Nub

    A pro gambler taught me this.. There is no such thing as house money . Once you’ve won it….it’s as much yours and as real as the money you earn on your 9-5. I’m referring to this because the fact that Leone was “found money “ should have exactly zero impact as to how you value the assert. It should neither make him easier or harder to part with on its own . It should be left out of any analysis of the transaction. And this is not to say I’m for or against the deal.

    • Guzman's Jheri Curl

      Agree with this…I think the bigger point is that a) relievers are as volatile as weed stocks b) the trend has teams valuing relievers much higher (perhaps over valuing at times) and c) it was an area of strength for the Jays to deal from. Only way this trade hurts is if Greene figures his sh*t out…

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      I wasn’t suggesting an ‘easy come easy go’ approach to Leone. I wasn’t suggesting he was ‘house money’ as you put it. I was noting the fact that he was a waiver claim only a year ago as an assessment of how much he’s valued. Last year you could get him for free. The Jays did. I’d sell high on that guy just like they did.

  • It’s funny to see the most staunch defenders of the Atkins/Shapiro front office show concern/trepidation over one of the FO’s first really clever transactions. Let’s give them some credit. They parlayed a fungible reliever and a prospect whose star was/is clearly fading amongst their own talent evaluators into an OF who (a) is young, (b) is a strong defender at all OF positions, (c) arguably owns 70-grade power, and (d) is under team control for years to come at sub-market-rate salary. The team’s recent moves are very encouraging pieces of incremental improvement.

    • breasteve

      I liked Grichuk last July/Aug when rumours had him available due to a org falling out, and I still like him, but I hope the pkg cost was inflated w other teams in competition because Leone was very valuable and Cards obviously didnt have much leverage.

    • Oakville Jays

      Agreed. Is there a fear that Grichuk turns into Colby Rasmus 2.0? The Cardinals lost patience with Colby. I hope Grichuk’s dad doesn’t try to be a coach like Colby’s dad.

  • Chappy

    I’ve read a number of opinions on this but i have to say i just don’t get this trade. Whether Leone repeats or not, he had a really good year and you don’t just give that away when you bullpen is just good. I looked forward to having Leone in the pen and there are already too many Jays outfielders that are just shades of grey different from each other, and we definitely don’t need another strikeout guy, period.

    • Holly Wood

      I think the Jays felt they could not go into the season with Pearce and Carrera as a left field platoon. Both are lost out there, too much real estate to cover.

  • CM

    Love the move. Sell hi buy low. If they can free up $ by trading Pearce or Morales (eat some contract) and use the cash to get a dependable starter like Cobb that would be outstanding. Given Happ and Estrada are on 1 year deals Mgt shouldn’t have fear in committing to a proven starter. Move biagini to the pen. That team can be competitive.

  • Voidhelix

    All good points, actually. I can buy into all of this thinking. I’m not sold on Grichuk’s bat, but his defense is superior to every other corner infielder we have. Atkins did make it sound like he had other trades in mind. Maybe Yelich is still a possibility, and Miami just wanted Alford plus Grichuk, to replace both the OF they will have lost. Who knows? I can see Atkins wanting a long lineup of 10+ HR guys though. Not sure if that’ll help us contend.

  • Terry Mesmer

    We all have endured the fans moaning about the Jays not making moves. Then we got Diaz, Solarte, Gift, Guerreri, and three guys in the AAA Rule 5 draft. But none of those were Lorenzo Cain, Ozuna, or Yelich, so they didn’t count! Now that we have Granderson and Grichuk, it’s interesting to look at the rest of the AL East moves (via Roster Resource).
    The Yankees made the top deal in MLB by acquiring Stanton, no doubt, but have no other adds to their projected MLB roster, are counting on unknowns at 1B, 2B, and 3B, and are wondering what to do with Jacoby “Kendrys” Ellsbury. Boston has added no one to their projected 25-man, despite a terrible bench. Baltimore, which needs about 12 starting pitchers, added two Rule 5 relievers but no one else to the MLB squad. Tampa Bay got Denard Span (negative 1.1 bWAR last year) and a 2B with 118 career PA (and Nathan Eovaldi is their projected fifth starter). By comparison, the Jays have added four position players to the 25 man, allowing us all to carefully assess who to dump (Pearce/Carrera) or send to AAA (Diaz?). I’m not saying the Jays have caught up to Boston and New York, I’m just sayin’…
    According to MLBTR, Boston columnists (not mere blog commentors) are LOSING THEIR SHIT because Dombroski has announced he is fine with the current team. I read a Baltimore blog that was a long interview with Buck Showalter, and had 1300 comments that said “so wise” or “I like RBIs” (nary a complaint — it was weird and cult-like).
    So…let’s get a fifth starter and get on with it!

  • Jays of Thunder

    Unrelated FYI for Stoeten and Cam. I have started blocking ads on the mobile version of this site due to the pop-ups redirecting offsite. I know you guys don’t choose the ads, and you’re basically getting screwed by your ad network, but those ads are way too big of a pain in the ass to put up with.

      • Designated For Assignment

        Cure your guilt and make a pledge to Birds All Day. I happily did, despite Stoeten chastising me when I suggested that for Free Agent Jay Bruce was not coming to Toronto.
        Patreon subscribers also get to listen to “Super Bad”, a podcast that is both Blue Jays and MLB issues.

      • Jays of Thunder

        I give a couple bucks a month to the podcast, which is money well spent. I just figure it’s a different pot than the blog and the ad issue could affect other writers if if hurts traffic.

  • ice_hawk10

    everyone’s so down on Teoscar. do we need reminding that he’s a young player with only 2 short MLB stints to his name? the K’s were concerning, but he had never been that guy before this season, so maybe we should just calm ourselves a bit. maybe he was trying to make an adjustment to the new ball. maybe he was trying to bash his way out of AAA by ripping HRs. let’s just let it ride. he is still regarded pretty positively by most evaluators, and his contact quality numbers are pretty sweet (at the very top of the league in Barrel%).