In search of Higher Matches, Blue Jays and Rockies Swap Outfielders

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports activities

On Thursday morning, the Blue Jays and Rockies agreed to a commerce sending Randal Grichuk and money concerns to Colorado, with Raimel Tapia and minor league infielder Adrian Pinto becoming a member of Toronto. Rob Gillies of The Related Press reports that the amount of money is simply over $9.7 million, which accounts for almost half of the remaining wage on Grichuk’s five-year contract. With this transfer, the Blue Jays get the left-handed outfielder that they had been looking for, and the Rockies get one other energy hitter to plug into the center of their lineup.

Grichuk signed that five-year extension (value $52 million) after placing up 2.1 WAR in 2018, his first season in Toronto. He blasted 31 house runs the subsequent yr, however that energy was the one constructive side of his method on the plate. Over the past three years, his offensive output has been 9 % beneath league common, and that’s regardless of an ISO that sits a hair above .200. His greatest difficulty has been getting on base at a daily clip. His stroll charge has been remarkably constant, sitting round 5.8% over the past six years, although it dipped to its lowest level since his rookie season final yr. With a batted-ball profile targeted on fly ball contact, his BABIP isn’t a lot better.

Within the subject, Grichuk has been a stable defender throughout all three outfield positions. Splitting his time between middle and proper subject over the previous couple of years, the superior defensive metrics charge his work within the nook a bit of greater than up the center. All three metrics have been disenchanted in his potential to cowl sufficient floor within the subject because the Blue Jays’ full-time middle fielder in 2020. However moved over to proper in ’21, he graded out as one of many higher fielders on the place on a per-inning foundation, accumulating 6 DRS and 5.5 UZR in simply 330.1 innings.

An influence-hitting outfielder who can passably play up the center and stand out within the corners is a helpful piece to have on a roster. The issue for the Blue Jays is that Grichuk’s profile is a bit redundant on their roster on condition that George Springer, Teoscar Hernández, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., all additionally right-handed energy hitters, are lined as much as take full-time roles within the outfield. That made Grichuk an costly and restricted backup. Blue Jays normal supervisor Ross Atkins acknowledged this poor roster match after the trade: “[Tapia is] only a higher complementary piece. Randal Grichuk’s an excellent baseball participant. However his talent set was similar to our different outfielders.”

In Colorado, Tapia had been displaced from his beginning gig in left subject by Kris Bryant, however Grichuk ought to slot into the beginning lineup by pushing Charlie Blackmon from proper subject to designated hitter. Blackmon’s defensive chops in proper have been drastically higher than what he was capable of accomplish in middle subject, however making him the common DH ought to assist preserve his 35-year-old physique recent for all the season. With an infinite outfield to name house and appreciable energy, it wouldn’t be stunning if Grichuk thrived in Denver; his batted-ball profile matches the park properly, and if he hits for sufficient energy, he may lastly offset his on-base points.

As for Tapia, despite the fact that he received’t be assured a full-time function, he can cowl all three outfield positions and likewise present contact and velocity off the bench. Because the beginning left fielder in Colorado, he posted a 79 wRC+ over the past three years with a principally empty .282 batting common. In that point, he slapped almost 60% of his batted balls into the bottom, serving to him make the most of his above-average dash velocity. Unsurprisingly, his batted-ball profile is closely depending on operating excessive BABIPs; after posting a .392 BABIP and a career-high 97 wRC+ in 2020, that former determine dropped to .306 final yr, cratering his total offensive contributions.

To assist maximize his contact-heavy method, Tapia has tried to enhance his plate self-discipline over the past three years. His strikeout charge has fallen year-over-year since 2019, all the way in which all the way down to 13.1% final yr, and his contact charge has correspondingly elevated, although he isn’t essentially making higher swing selections. His chase charge was nonetheless quite excessive; many of the enhancements have been a outcome of a better contact charge on pitches within the zone. However that further contact got here with a swing charge that fell eight factors from 2019 to ‘20 and stayed at that decrease degree in ‘21. It looks like Tapia grew assured in his method in opposition to pitches he may deal with within the zone and stopped swinging as typically to keep away from making poor contact or whiffing.

Tapia earned stable defensive marks in left subject however has seen restricted time on the different two outfield positions; he’s accrued simply 189.2 and 233.2 innings in middle and proper subject, respectively. His velocity ought to assist him thrive irrespective of the place he’s lined up within the subject, however his lack of expertise is likely to be a priority for a Blue Jays roster that out of the blue doesn’t have a lot depth in middle.

Blue Jays Heart Area Choices

Participant Innings DRS UZR OAA
George Springer 2575.2 13 2.9 4
Teoscar Hernández 819.1 -6 -6.5 -2
Raimel Tapia 189.2 3 -0.5 3
Cavan Biggio 23

Springer has dealt along with his justifiable share of accidents over the previous couple of years, and he’s getting into his age-33 season. If he have been to overlook time, the Blue Jays must press Tapia into full-time responsibility in middle subject, although if that got here to cross, he in all probability would proceed to be a internet constructive within the subject.

Along with Tapia, the Blue Jays additionally obtained Pinto, a 19-year-old infielder out of Venezuela. Signed as a world free agent in 2019, he made his skilled debut within the Dominican Summer season League final yr and earned MVP honors after slashing .360/.486/.543 and swiping a league-leading 41 bases. Regardless of the incredible begin to his profession, he wasn’t ranked on our 2022 Rockies prospect list. Scouting sources instructed our Eric Longenhagen that Pinto is short-levered with an athletic, free swing and good bat velocity and common palms and actions on the infield. He’s probably a 35+/40 FV with the profile of a bench bat that may be plugged in across the infield.


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