Randal Grichuk

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Randal Alexander Grichuk

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Randal Grichuk was selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft with the 24th overall pick. He was signed by scout Kevin Ham and made his pro debut that summer with the AZL Angels, hitting .322 with 7 homers in 53 games, an excellent start to a professional career for a 17-year-old.

Given his young age, the Angels did not rush him through his system, putting him back in the Arizona League to start 2010, where he hit .327 in 10 games. He then moved up to the Midwest League, where he hit .292 with 19 doubles and 7 homers in 52 games for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 2011, an injury cost him a good chunk of the season, as he played only 14 games in the California League, where he should have been all year, the rest of his time being back with the AZL Angels and Cedar Rapids on rehabilitation assignments. Altogether, he played 53 games, hitting only .256 in what was a lost year. He bounced back in 2012 with a full season for the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League, putting up a .298 average, with 30 doubles, 9 triples and 18 homers, with 79 runs scored and 71 RBI in an excellent all-around season. In 2013, he was promoted to AA and the Arkansas Travelers of the Midwest League. Still only 21, he fell back to .256/.306/.474 in 128 games, but his power was still very good, with 27 doubles, 8 triples and 22 homers. He also scored 85 runs.

On November 22, 2013, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with OF Peter Bourjos in return for 3B David Freese and P Fernando Salas. He was assigned to the Memphis Redbirds to start the 2014 season and hit .310 in 21 games before getting the call to St. Louis in late April. He made his debut on April 28th against the Milwaukee Brewers, taking over in right field in the 9th inning as part of a double switch. Greg Garcia also made his debut for the Cards in the same game, as a pinch-hitter. The game went into extra innings and Randal went to bat twice, being out on an infield fly against Brandon Kintzler in the bottom of the 9th and striking out against Zach Duke in the 11th before the Brewers won the game, 5-3, in 12 innings; he also played an inning in center field during the game as the Cards made numerous substitutions.

On January 19, 2018, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for Ps Conner Greene and Dominic Leone. Grichuk started the season slowly and at the end of April was hitting just .106 with a pair of homers and 7 RBI in 25 games - and that was after going 2 for 3 with a pair of ribbies in his final game of the month. He was then out for a month with an injury, only returning on June 1st. He began to hit a bit better, but was still just at .206 at the All-Star break. He had a solid month of August, when he hit .306 with 5 homers and 13 RBI and reached the 20-homer mark for the third straight year in the early days of September. On September 9th, he suffered a freak injury when he ran into a security guard who was posted in foul territory along the first base line at the Rogers Centre. Both he and Justin Smoak were converging at full speed towards the spot where the ball was to land and the security guard moved out of Smoak's way, carrying his steel stool, but did not see Grichuk coming and accidentally stepped into his path, with the bench colliding with his head. Grichuk was knocked out cold and had to be removed from the game to be checked for a possible concussion. He escaped serious injury and was able to be in the starting lineup for the Jays' next game two days later. He finished the season at .245 with 25 homers and 61 RBI in 124 games.

On April 2, 2019, he signed a five-year contract extension with the Blue Jays, a clear sign that he was one of the players around whom the team wanted to build. He celebrated this the next day by hitting a pair of homers to lead the Blue Jays over the Baltimore Orioles, 5-3. On May 28th, he was in the middle of an embarrassing play as he lost a routine fly ball by Avisail Garcia of the Tampa Bay Rays in the devilish roof of Tropicana Field and saw it fall behind him and then bounce towards the right field corner. Garcia rounded the bases easily and received credit for an inside-the-park homer. In Grichuk's defense, he was far from the only player to have been defeated by the awkward playing conditions in Tampa Bay's much decried home venue. Of all qualified batters in 2019, he posted the lowest OBP (.280), but did contribute 31 homers and 80 RBI for a .457 slugging, finishing with a 96 OPS+.

In 2020, he switched positions with Teoscar Hernandez, moving to center while the lanky slugger switched over to right field. He started the year slowly, not hitting a single extra-base hit in his first 11 games, although he was getting on base at a .342 OBP clip, a marked improvement over the previous year. When he turned on the power, it came on with a vengeance, as he hit 6 homers in 6 games, in addition to a pair of doubles. This corresponded to the Jays making a move up the standings and into postseason contention during the strange abbreviated season. By that point, he was hitting .344 with an OPS of 1.056. He fell back to earth somewhat, but continued to contribute. On August 28th, he hit a dramatic walk-off homer at the Jays' temporary home of Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY. The Baltimore Orioles had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th by scoring their designated runner, and the Jays had been unable to move Reese McGuire any further while their first two batters made outs against Cole Sulser. But Randal ended the game in dramatic fashion by driving a ball just beyond the reach of CF Cedric Mullins, who vainly climbed the fence but was unable to reel in the two-run homer. He finished the season at .273 in 55 games with 12 homers and 35 RBIs and an OPS+ of 114. In the Wild Card Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, he went 1 for 7 as the Jays were swept in two games.

In 2021, there was speculation that Grichuk would be the odd man out in the Jays' outfield after they signed CF George Springer to a lucrative free agent contract. However, Springer was injured at the start of the season, giving Grichuk a chance to play, and he ended up playing 149 games, with 87 starts in center field and 34 in right field. He batted .241 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs, which looked superficially good but was actually only worth an OPS+ of 89, given he drew just 27 walks and his OBP was a dreadful .281. What saved him was that the Jays had no trouble scoring runs, and that he was the only player besides Springer who could comfortably start in center field (not that he was a great fielder at the position, but he was better than other options). Given that context, it was not a huge surprise that on March 24, 2022, the Blue Jays traded him to obtain a more athletic player. He was sent to the Colorado Rockies in return for Raimel Tapia and minor league infielder Adrian Pinto. The Blue Jays also threw in $9.7 million to even things up financially, given he still had two years left on his contract extension signed in 2019.

Grichuk hit .259 in 140 games in his first season with the Rockies in 2022, playing regularly in right field and banging 21 doubles and 19 homers while driving in 73 runs. It was essentially the same season he had had with Toronto the previous year, and his OPS+ was similar, at 92. In 2023, he improved significantly, although he was no longer an everyday starter. At the end of July he was hitting .308 in 64 games, with 8 homers, 27 RBIs and an OPS+ of 121. As he was about to become a free agent and the Rockies were once again well out of the playoff picture, on July 30th he was traded back to his original team, the Los Angeles Angels, along with another former Angels first-rounder, 1B C.J. Cron, in return for two minor league prospects, Mason Albright and Jake Madden. The Angels had been beset by a rash of injuries, including a season-ending one to OF Taylor Ward the day before, so the influx of two productive major league hitters was a godsend.

Grichuk played for the Richmond, TX team in the 2003 Little League World Series.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Greg Beacham (Associated Press); "Angels acquire C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk in trade with Colorado for 2 minor leaguers", Yahoo! Sports, July 30, 2023. [1]
  • Gregor Chisholm: "Grichuk eyes bigger production with Toronto: Slugger's offseason task focused on eye-strengthening work", mlb.com, January 23, 2018. [2]
  • Rob Gillies (Associated Press): "Blue Jays trade Grichuk and $9.7M to Rockies for Tapia", Yahoo! News, March 24, 2022. [3]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Gifted Grichuk aims to follow No. 15's footsteps: Young center fielder gleaning wisdom from Edmonds at camp", mlb.com, February 25, 2016. [4]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Tapia traded to Blue Jays; Rox get Grichuk in return", mlb.com, March 24, 2022. [5]

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