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, per the Blue Jays twitter feed.
We've acquired OF Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals in exchange for RHP Dominic Leone and RHP Conner Greene.— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 19, 2018
Last season, Grichuk hit 22 home runs with 59 RBI and 25 doubles in 122 games. pic.twitter.com/624iYWvEx2
It’s possible you haven’t heard of Dominic Leone or Conner Greene, and that is certainly fair in the latter’s case, as he’s a Double-A starter who hasn’t put up great numbers in the minor. As for Leone, the Cardinals appear to have added an impact right-hander to the bullpen.
Dominic Leone just finished what might be characterized a breakthrough season in Toronto’s bullpen, putting up a 2.56 ERA and 2.94 FIP in 70.1 innings, which was good for a 1.5 WAR, Leone missed a lot of bats with a 14.5% swinging strike rate which led to a 29% strikeout rate against an 8% walk rate. He throws a mid-90s fourseam fastball and a high 80s cutter.
Leone was better as the season went along and in the second half he struck out 33% of batters against a 4% walk rate. If Leone repeats his stats for next season, let alone the second half, he will likely be the Cardinals best reliever. Leone is a super-2 meaning he has four years left of control, including the 2018 season. He will make a little more than $1 million this season.
Conner Greene is a 22-year-old right-hander who reached Double-A in 2015 but has been stuck there since, unable to strikeout many more batters than he has walked. His future might be in the bullpen as well, and he will take a spot on the 40-man roster. This is what Eric Lohenhagen had to say about Greene before last season, and if his stat line is any indication, not much has changed:
Greene’s 2016 season was split evenly between High- and Double-A before he finished up in the Fall League. He has an electric fastball that was still humming in at 93-97 in the AFL with nasty movement. It’s that type of arm speed that helps generate Greene’s potential plus changeup. Neither his slider nor his curveball is very good, and his stiff delivery and inconsistent release point hurt his control.
Greene is still just 21, so there’s time for him to improve a breaking ball (I give the slider the best chance to step forward) and his control to become a mid-rotation starter, but there are those who think he’s more likely to be a late-inning weapon out of the ‘pen, and I think it’s starting to look that way.
On a somewhat related note:
- On January 8, 1998, the Cardinals signed Kent Bottenfield as a free agent.
- On March 23, 2000, the Cardinals traded Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy for Jim Edmonds.
- On December 14, 2007, the Cardinals traded Jim Edmonds for David Freese.
- On November 22, 2013, the Cardinals traded David Freese and Fernando Salas for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
- On January 19, 2018, the Cardinals traded Randal Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays for Dominic Leone and Conner Greene.