Blue Jays trade Randal Grichuk to Rockies

Blue Jays and Rockies agreed to outfield send-off trade Randal Grichuk from Toronto to Colorado in exchange for an outfielder Raimel Tapiareports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (by Twitter). The Jays will acquire a prospect on the field Adrian Pinto of the Rockies, and they’ll send money to Colorado to cover Grichuk’s contract, The fine sand adds.

Grichuk, 30, has been considered a trade candidate for more than a year now as the Rockies have deepened their outfield mix and Grichuk’s performance has slipped. Signed to a five-year deal covering the 2019-23 seasons, Grichuk still owes $9.33m this season and next, while Tapia and the Rox have agreed on a $3.95m salary. dollars earlier this week. He is arbitration-eligible and self-checked through the 2023 season. The difference in salary between the two players is approximately $14.7 million.

Grichuk signed a five-year, $52 million contract on April 2, 2019 – fresh off a 2018 season in which he hit what was then a career-high .245/.301/.502 of 25 circuits in 462 plates. appearances. It was something of a head-scratcher, even back then, as Grichuk’s perennial OBP struggles worked to offset his power and solid glove work in the outfield. That’s not to say he wasn’t a useful player, but the Jays were already controlling Grichuk for two seasons and effectively committing about $39-40 million on top of what he might have earned in arbitration to buy out his first three free agent seasons. .

Since putting pen to paper, Grichuk has posted a .242/.286/.448 batting line with 65 home runs in 1,414 plate appearances. Among 159 players with at least 1,000 plate appearances during that three-year span, he ranks 158th in on-base percentage. To his credit, Grichuk reduced his strikeout rate from 26.4% in 2018 to 20.9% in 2021, but contact gains didn’t result in a better average and his walk rate fell to a low of 5.0%. It’s clear there’s above-average pop to his bat, but the defensive metrics have also deteriorated on Grichuk’s work at center over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, the Jays signed George Springer and received flare-ups from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Theoscar Hernandez since Grichuk signed this long-term pact.

There were reports even as the lockdown was still ongoing that Tapia could be on the move when trading resumes. Add Kris Bryant as the new lead left fielder has surely only accelerated the Rockies’ efforts to move Tapia, who previously held the position. Grichuk can serve as the main center fielder or right fielder in Colorado, and he’ll bring the Rox a bit more power than Tapia ever offered – albeit at the expense of some speed, on-base percentage and (arguably) of defensive value.

In Tapia, the Jays will get a much-needed left-handed bat to help balance an all-right-handed (and generally right-leaning) outfield mix. The 28-year-old has been Colorado’s leading left fielder since 2019, recording a .282/.327/.394 slant line that looks solid on the surface but is well below weighted average for the home park and the league (79 wRC+ ). Tapia has strong bat-to-ball skills but an extreme ground ball approach that has only resulted in 16 home runs through 1,186 plate appearances since 2019. He can sweep a base when needed (37 interceptions with a 77.1% pass rate in the past Like Grichuk, he’s not one to take many walks (6.3% since 2019), but he’s also a badass, as evidenced by his career high 13.1% last year.

Tapia has received solid ratings in left field on metrics like Defensive Runs Saved (4), Ultimate Zone Rating (6.0) and Outs Above Average (7) since becoming a regular in the lineup at Coors Field . He’s at least capable of playing center in a pinch, having recorded 189 innings there in his career (15 last season, none in 2020, 83 in 2019). Those odds, along with his left-handed bat, make him a better candidate for the Toronto roster than right-handed hitter Grichuk was.

While Tapia may not be the star the Rockies imagined when he ranked among the sport’s top 50 prospects during the 2016-17 offseason, he has established himself as a solid defensive outfielder with above-average speed and bat-to-ball skills. The Jays are likely hoping to shoot more fly balls out of Tapia, generating some extra power, but even if his batting profile remains unchanged, he can be a useful fourth outfielder for a club that’s hitting deep right. discounted options.

As for Pinto, 19, he will give the Jays something of a forward-looking wild card to plug into the low levels of their farming system. Baseball America ranked Pinto 19th in a fairly thin Rockies system this spring, calling the 5’6″ second baseman a “breakout candidate” who could make substantial forward moves as he moves up from the league. Dominican summer to a full season affiliate.

Pinto hit .360 / .486 / .543 in 224 DSL plate appearances last season, walking a whopping 17% clip against just 8% strikeout rate while leading the league with 41 stolen bases. BA’s scouting report praises his “exceptional hand-eye coordination”, advanced pitch-recognition skills and plus-plus speed. Players of his size and stature will always have their share of skeptics, but the Jays probably feel better about paying Grichuk to play elsewhere if they see part of the deal as an effective purchase of Pinto from the Rockies. .

More soon.

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