What happened. With the arbitration numbers being officially exchanged tomorrow, the St. Louis Cardinals and OF Randal Grichuk agreed to terms on a 1 year, $2.6 million deal.
The story. Tomorrow is the day where teams and players who are in their salary arbitration years are to exchange their salary numbers. In years past, this would create a framework conducive to coming to an agreement, but last season the Cardinals instituted a “file and trial” system where if they get to the exchange of salary numbers, they’ll carry on to the arbitration hearing. They took RHP Michael Wacha to arbitration last year, taking a case to arbitration for the first time since 1999, and won.
Grichuk had been projected to earn $2.8 million in arbitration based on Matt Shwartz’s projections at MLB Trade Rumors. LHP Tyler Lyons and RHP Michael Wacha are the Cardinals two other arbitration cases that remain unresolved as of yet as well as newly acquired OF Marcell Ozuna.
The numbers. Randal Grichuk, 26, was a first round pick of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2009 draft. He was acquired by St. Louis after the 2013 season as part of the trade that sent David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels.
Last season Grichuk hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 home runs in 122 games with the Cardinals. It was his second straight 20+ home run season, making him one of 67 players in Major League Baseball with back-to-back 20 home run seasons. His 11.3% extra base hit rate was 21st of the 216 players who had at least 400 plate appearances last season.
The impact. 5/10. There is no surprise with this deal as Grichuk has long been penciled in as the Cardinals’ fourth outfielder going into next season. It’s a role he should excel in as well. He can provide some punch off the bench while being able to give you good defense at all three outfield positions.
With the offseason going as slowly as it has, it’s very possible that Grichuk may yet find his way out of St. Louis, but for now he is still here and it is a good thing. I’m on record saying that trading Grichuk this winter would be a mistake for the Cardinals because I believe he will eventually put the tools together. In many ways he is already the kind of player you’d love to just plug in 8th in your lineup and let him play everyday. He’d put up some gaudy power numbers for sure.
It seems like Grichuk has been around forever because he first debuted for the Cardinals in 2014 and now has spent most of the last four seasons in St. Louis, but Grichuk was still the youngest position player on the team’s 2017 Opening Day roster. And only Carlos Martinez was younger on the complete 25 man last April.
He’s young enough that he still has time on his side and has the power tool in spades. He needs to figure out how to be more selective at the plate, though he did show me that he took strikes in that category as he bit far less on the down and away pitch that had plagued him thus far.
I think when we discuss Grichuk we often talk about how far he has to go, but really it’s not that far. Learning to be a little more selective at the plate and how he approaches that would make him a dramatically better player. And some of that should come naturally with experience.