The #STLCards sign Randal Grichuk to one-Year, $2.6 million deal, avoiding arbitration— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 11, 2018
Grichuk, 26, was in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
The outfielder, touted for his power bat, has produced at least 20 home runs in the last two seasons, but has failed to consistently get on base, posting an on base percentage of less than .290 and a batting average of .240 or below in each of the last two seasons.
Grichuk, possessing a reliable glove and strong arm, is part of an crowded outfield that already features Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and new addition Marcell Ozuna.
Stephen Piscotty’s trade to Oakland freed up some room, but prospect Harrison Bader and 22-year-old Tyler O’Neil could challenge for playing time.
O’Neil especially could have the Cardinals’ attention, as the young right fielder profiles similarly to Grichuk offensively (31 homers, .246 average and .321 OBP last year in Triple-A). His age and reduced cost could factor into the organization’s plans going forward.
With Tommy Pham coming off a career season and Fowler and Ozuna likely locked into starting roles, it’s fair to project Grichuk as the team’s fourth outfielder, barring injury to any of the three or improved offensive consistency from the 26-year-old.
Still, Grichuk’s raw talent is worth the cost. He’s a former first-rounder with top tier power and solid defense about to enter his athletic prime. Given the rash of injuries experienced by the Cardinals in the last few seasons, retaining an asset with that potential (however unrealized it may be) is a no-brainer.