ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the
ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.
St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the Cardinals another reliever for their retooled bullpen. Greene, who rose to Double-A last season, ranked 11th on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.
The trade furthers the Cardinals' efforts to eliminate the outfield logjam that became more complicated with the addition of right fielder Marcell Ozuna last month. The Cardinals have now dealt three outfielders -- Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Magneuris Sierra -- from their 40-man roster since the season ended.
Had they not gotten their desired return, the Cardinals were prepared to keep Grichuk as depth behind starting outfielders Tommy Pham, William Fowler and Ozuna. But with Jose Martinez likely to make the Opening Day roster, and prospects Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill and Oscar Mercado capable of playing all three outfield positions, Grichuk's presence wasn't a necessity.
What was pressing, however, was to further reinforce a bullpen that lost four key members -- Trevor Rosenthal, Seunghwan Oh, Zach Duke and Juan Nicasio -- this offseason. Before Friday, the Cardinals' only addition to the 'pen had been Luke Gregerson, who is currently in line to open the season as the club's closer.
If Leone can build upon his breakout season from 2017, he could slot into a late-inning role with the Cardinals. Leone ranked 12th among qualifying American League relievers with a 2.56 ERA last season and struck out 81 in 70 1/3 innings.
Leone had success against both right-handed (.211 average) and left-handed (.183) batters while posting a 1.05 WHIP and registering 11 holds. Leone stranded 78 percent of inherited runners, the 13th-highest percentage among AL relievers.
Leone made his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2014 and also spent time with the D-backs. The Cardinals will have him under team control for another four seasons.
Greene, 22, had been methodically climbing through Toronto's system since signing as a seventh-round pick out of high school in 2013. The right-hander reached Double-A last year and finished 5-10 with a 5.29 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). He struck out 92 and walked 83 over 132 2/3 innings.
According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Greene features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, as well as an above-average changeup. He is also developing a slider and curveball, both of which scouts believe will improve once he finds a more consistent release point.
As for Grichuk, he departs St. Louis four years after the Cardinals acquired him in a four-player swap with the Angels. He debuted in 2014 and opened the next two years as a starting outfielder and cleanup hitter. But the potential that had long intrigued the Cardinals never developed into consistent production.
Grichuk was shuttled to the Minors each of the last two seasons when his confidence waned and his swing got out of whack. Along the way, he lost his starting job with the big league club. During his time with the Cards, Grichuk hit .249/.297/.488 with a .785 OPS. His 63 home runs since 2015 rank second-most on the team (Matt Carpenter, 72).
With the additions of Leone and Greene, the Cardinals' 40-man roster is once again full. This marks the second trade the Cardinals have made with the Blue Jays this winter. In December, the Cardinals dealt away shortstop Aledmys Diaz for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.