Rockies land Grichuk, send Tapia to Jays

March 24th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies added right-handed power to their outfield mix on Thursday by obtaining Randal Grichuk and cash considerations from the Blue Jays for their primary leadoff hitter last season, Raimel Tapia, plus Minor League infielder Adrian Pinto.

Grichuk, 30, batted .241 with 22 home runs and a career-high 81 RBIs in 149 games while batting toward the end of the Blue Jays' order, while playing mostly in center field and as a designated hitter.

“We’ve been looking for another power bat, and I think we acquired one with Grichuk,” Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said. “He can play center field. He can play all three outfield spots. We needed to get more impact in our lineup.”

Grichuk, who has played for the Cardinals (2014-17) and Jays (2018-21), has hit no fewer than 22 homers in each of the past five full-season schedules. After finishing 29th in the Majors in home runs by outfielders with 46, the Rockies have added left fielder Kris Bryant on a seven-year, $182 million deal, and now Grichuk.

The search for the ideal center fielder required thought. Center field at Coors Field is spacious, so a slugger without mobility could quickly become a liability. 

"[Grichuk has] knocked in runs. He's a solid outfielder in all three [fields] -- can play center," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's a threat to hit the ball out of the park. I thought we needed more power. So did Billy [Schmidt]. So did our coaching staff. He's a guy that brings that. This seemed like a good fit for both teams."

Additionally, the Rockies expect a bounce-back season from Charlie Blackmon, who hit a career-low 13 homers last year, and are looking for the next step from Sam Hilliard -- an athletic player with high power potential who is trying to trim his strikeouts.

While Grichuk’s primary defensive position is center, the deal does not necessarily set up a straight platoon in center field with Hilliard, a lefty hitter. The addition of the designated hitter and Grichuk’s versatility to play the corners allows many options for Black.

In Toronto, the recent additions of George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and the emergence of Teoscar Hernández made for a crowded outfield situation for Grichuk, who signed a five-year, $52 million contract before the 2019 season.

"I probably have more text message exchanges with him thanking him for his effort, regardless of the score of the game or the time of the game," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "He's one of the most consistent defenders we've had here in a long time. Whether it was 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth or we were up 12-0, he was still diving for balls or going into the wall. He played very hard. He always ran hard to first base and really had a couple of solid years for us.

"He understands. He wants to play every day, and he wasn't sure that was going to happen. We've had a lot of conversations about that, and he understood and was very positive about us and this team. I feel that he will miss being here, but I'm sure that he will make the most of that opportunity."

Grichuk is due $10.33 million in 2022. Tapia avoided arbitration by settling for $3.95 million. Schmidt did not confirm the amount of cash received in the deal.

Tapia, 28, signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic and progressed through the system based on his bat-to-ball skills and speed. He debuted in 2016 and became a regular over the past three years, during which he has hit a combined .282 with 57 doubles, nine triples and 16 home runs.

In 51 games of the shortened 2020 season, Tapia batted .321 and expressed a desire to win a league batting title. Last season, however, some extreme hot and cold streaks and a right big toe injury -- which cost him playing time and affected him at times when he was healthy -- led to a .273 finish with 26 doubles and six homers. reporter Keegan Matheson contributed to this story.