This past week the St. Louis Cardinals traded disgruntled outfielder Randal Grichuck to the Toronto Blue Jays. In return, the Cards received reliever Dominic Leone as well as minor league pitcher Conner Greene.
Randal Grichuk was set to be the Cards fourth outfielder behind Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, and Marcell Ozuna. While Grichuk would have been an outstanding fourth outfielder, it is understandable that he would want to go to a team where he can start.
Grichuk won’t be incredibly difficult to replace thanks to Jose Martinez. Martinez doesn’t have the power that Grichuk possesses, however, he makes up for it with a much better on-base-percentage (OBP). Grichuk’s OBP last year was .285 while Martinez’s was .379. Cardinals fans are well aware of the frustration invoked by Grichuk as he could never get over his strikeout troubles.
Conner Greene has been stuck in double-A since 2015 due to an inability to find the strike zone. However, he is only 21 so his ascension to double-A was rapid. While Greene is currently a starting pitcher, it seems his future might lie in the bullpen. Greene will fill a spot on the 40-man roster.
While Conner Greene is an interesting developmental prospect, the prize of the trade is Dominic Leone. Leone had a 2.56 ERA last year and 81 strikeouts in only 70 innings of work. He’s making a tick over one million dollars, compared to Grichuk’s $2.8 million salary. Leone will be expected to step in and be a major contributor in the bullpen.
The bullpen was a major weakness for last year’s team as they ended the year with 17 blown saves. Especially after the injury to Trevor Rosenthal, president of baseball operation John Mozeliak realized that upgrades needed to be made. Leone should be a steadying presence in the pen. However, relievers are extremely unpredictable year-to-year.
Grichuk’s Cardinal tenure was filled with ups and downs as he frequently bounced up and down from Triple-A and the big leagues. Hopefully he is able to find his footing with the Blue Jays as he has the pop that teams can’t get enough of. Mozeliak seemed to make the best out of a bad situation as he got value back for Grichuk. All the Cardinals can hope for now is continued success from Leone and growth from Greene.