Grichuk signs 5-year extension with Blue Jays

Norris released from Minor League deal

April 2nd, 2019

TORONTO -- On the same day the Blue Jays traded away longtime center fielder Kevin Pillar, Toronto also locked up Randal Grichuk to a multi-year contract extension.

Grichuk signed a five-year contract worth $52 million on Tuesday night. The deal goes into effect immediately, and runs through the 2019-23 seasons. That takes care of his final two years of arbitration, along with the first three years of his expected free agency period.

The announcement came just several hours after Toronto sent Pillar to the Giants for infielder Alen Hanson, reliever Derek Law and prospect Juan De Paula. Grichuk is expected to assume the bulk of the duties in center field as Pillar's replacement, and in the later years of the deal should transition back to a corner spot.

"I love the city, I like the direction the team is going," Grichuk said. "I see their vision. I see a lot of young, talented players that can be very impactful. They have a vision and I want to be a part of it.

"I look at it as, now you don't have to worry about the future. You can go out there and play, let your talent shine and do what you do and don't even think about it. It kind of takes the pressure off, more so, is how I look at it."

Toronto acquired Grichuk prior to the 2018 season for reliever Dominic Leone and Minor Leaguer Connor Greene. He got off to an extremely rough start in a Blue Jays uniform by slashing just .106/.208/.227 in April before he got hurt and missed a month. When Grichuk returned in June he was a completely different player, and he finished with an .873 OPS and 23 homers over the final four months.

The 27-year-old has spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues. He's a career .247 hitter with 92 home runs and 245 RBIs, and figures to be a prominent piece of the Blue Jays' lineup this season and beyond. The native of Texas previously agreed to a one-year $5-million deal prior to the season to avoid arbitration for 2019.

"Obviously, the performance is a key part of it, but we will rest well at night with his effort, his professionalism, his commitment to being great and [knowing] being a part of something special is important to him," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.

"The offense has always stood out. He’s always performed. He’s always hit the ball hard and he’s always hit it far, and it usually always goes over the fence at a pretty good rate. In our view, he’s been an above average defender, and those are hard things to piece together."

Norris released
The Blue Jays released right-hander Bud Norris from his Minor League deal on Tuesday night, and the veteran reliever is now a free agent.

Norris signed the Minor League contract midway through Spring Training, and the initial plan was to make him a setup man for closer Ken Giles. The problem was Norris experienced a drop in velocity, and instead of throwing mid-90s, he was topping out around 90 mph.

Toronto gave Norris a little bit more time to get ready by keeping him off the 25-man roster on Opening Day, and instead left him at extended spring training. Norris stayed in Dunedin where he pitched in an exhibition game, but the results didn't exactly earn a ringing endorsement from his manager earlier this week.

"He threw the other day, he was OK," Toronto skipper Charlie Montoyo said in a dismissive way, when asked about Norris on Monday.

Norris had an out-clause in his Minor League deal late in Spring Training, but the Blue Jays paid a $100,000 retention bonus to keep him in the organization. Less than 10 days later, Norris was released from his contract as Toronto abandoned any hope of putting him on the active roster.

The 34-year-old Norris picked up 28 saves for the Cardinals last season. Without Norris in the fold, Joe Biagini and Tim Mayza will continue to be the Blue Jays' primary setup men in front of closer Ken Giles.