Inside the Blue Jays’ Outfield Part Four: Randal Grichuk

As the 2019 MLB season approaches its end, it’s already time to project a rebuild-pivotal year in 2020

Grichuk has now experienced two spring trainings with the Blue Jays -- And we should expect the third one for him.  Sportsnet - Nathan Denette

To the surprise of no one, 2019 featured a losing, rebuilding-mode season for the Toronto Blue Jays. 

The good news is that the franchise finally saw bright glimpses from young players, giving the fans hope for a winning future soon.

But the Blue Jays’ exciting news in 2019 was topped by finding promising infielders in 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., SS Bo Bichette, and 2B Cavan Biggio. Then, to avoid seeing so much talent gone to waste, the franchise has to make sure to continue its rebuild collecting the right pieces. 

And one position is up for debate right now. 

Toronto will finish the season with six outfielders, not including injured Lourdes Gurriel Jr., which means some important decisions will have to be made.  

Among those names is Randal Grichuk, who is completing his second season with the Blue Jays.

The six-year veteran kept his career-averages for another year and stood out several times in a below-average group of batters, but will that be enough to secure a spot on the roster? 

Let’s take a look at his case on both sides of the equation.

Should He Stay?

The answer is very simple: Why would the Blue Jays get rid of their most reliable outfielder? 

Coming from a year in which he led the team in home runs tied with Justin Smoak despite suffering with a knee injury, Grichuk leads Toronto in games played in 2019, with 137. 

And that’s not the only measurement he’s on the top of the table for the franchise:

  • Runs scored: 65 (1st)
  • Hits: 123 (1st)
  • Home runs: 25 (1st)
  • RBIs: 66 (1st)

On defence, Grichuk is the only Blue Jay with more than 1,000 innings played thus far, and his .996 field percentage (1st among players with at least 200 innings) is, again, the team’s best. 

“The offence has always stood out, he’s always performed,” said general manager Ross Atkins, to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi in April, after signing a contract extension with Grichuk. “He’s always hit the ball hard and he’s always hit it far and it usually goes over the fence at a pretty good rate.

“In our view he’s been an above-average defender and those are hard things to piece together.”

Grichuk signed a five-year, $52-million US contract extension before the beginning of the season, which shows what the Blue Jays’ plans are, at least the initial ones. 

Should He Go?

It’s hard to imagine Grichuk’s spot in the initial roster in jeopardy for the 2020 season. However, some aspects have the potential to threaten his place among the Blue Jays’ outfielders, especially in the long-term. 

First of all, one of Toronto’s rebuilding mode trademark this year was the departure of several veterans. In that regard, the 28-year-old may not be seen as a player who will be with the team when it becomes a real playoff contender. 

Besides that, Grichuk lacked consistency in 2019.

He did reach 20+ home runs and 59+ RBIs for the fourth straight season but ended up never matching the potential breakout-year expectations raised after an impressive 2018 second-half. 

The former St. Louis Cardinal entered Thursday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox with a slash line of .230/.282/.438.

Grichuk’s .282 on-base percentage (OBP) is his lowest since his first year in the Major League.

The Verdict Is…

The Blue Jays hope to see a boost in those numbers one year from now. 

But at the same time that improvement would have had impacted the franchise’s new generation on the field, it means that Grichuk could become an interesting piece for teams already in playoff contention.

Still, a player with such consistency and one more experienced than most of the athletes on roster is always important. 

At this point, there’s no reason to imagine Grichuk away from Toronto, and his numbers and contract can still show that he’s part of this rebuilding, short- and long-term.  

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Posted: Sep 13 2019 10:33 am
Filed under: Baseball Sports