Randal Grichuk isn’t the highest paid player on the Toronto Blue Jays payroll this season, that’s Troy Tulowitzki, but he is the highest paid player on the actual roster.
Grichuk and Justin Smoak are both making $8,000,000 this year. But while Smoak is an impending free agent Grichuk is locked up long term.
In April, the Blue Jays decided to ink Grichuk to a 5 year, $52 million extension. A questionable decision at the time, entering the final month of the 2019 season the contract is looking even more worrying.
My fears when the contract when signed have come true. Grichuk has hit for career lows (apart from his 47 game rookie campaign). He currently has a slash line of .230/.282/.719 and has struck out 146 times.
Yes, Grichuk has a chance to finish with 30 plus home runs (currently has 25) but a sub .300 OBP is not good enough. Not for $10 million a season for the next four years.
A good comparison for Grichuk is Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun. He has hit a career high 28 home runs so far this season, but he also has an OBP of .324. While last year was a down year for Calhoun his career OBP across 8 seasons sits at .322.
Calhoun is currently making $10,500,000 this season and has a club option of $14,000,000 for next season which most likely will not be picked up. This year is the last season of the 3 year, $26 million contract he signed in 2017.
The one thing Grichuk has over Calhoun is the defensive side of his game. He isn’t a gold glover but he’s a plus defender.
The contract is salvageable, but Grichuk needs to get on base more. Grichuk has had an OBP over .300 twice in his career. Last season his OBP was .301, so he barely got there. His career OBP across six seasons is .294.
Easier said than done, but if he can strikeout less and get on base more this contract can be a success for the Jays. I don’t think he’ll be in centre field long term even though he has played there a lot since the Kevin Pillar trade. I feel he’s strongest in right.
Let’s hope Grichuk hits for an OBP of around .315 or higher next year because the Jays need him to. If he doesn’t, the investment of $52 million will be a poor one.