The tools remain exciting, but the clock is ticking on Randal Grichuk. He needs to learn to be more patient and selective at the plate. His strikeout rate has hovered around 30 percent in each of the past three seasons, with his O-Swing percentage sitting up in the high-30s. His walk rate has ranged from 5.9 percent to 6.3 percent since the start of 2015, leading to sub-.290 OBPs the last two seasons. Grichuk sure hits the ball hard when he does connect, as evidenced by his 10.0 Brls/PA rate last season, which ranked sixth in the majors (min. 190 batted-ball events). However, if he can't learn to make more consistent contact and get on base more, he won't continue to receive opportunities to play regularly. The Cardinals grew impatient last season, sending Grichuk to the minors in late May for a stretch, and his leash may be even shorter in 2018.
Grichuk agreed to a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Cardinals on Thursday to avoid arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports. Grichuk finished the 2017 season with a slash line of .238/.285/.473, while hitting 22 home runs and plating 59 baserunners. The 26-year-old has played in over 100 games the past three years for the Redbirds but is expected to see a decline in appearances due to the recent addition of Marcell Ozuna this offseason. Although opportunities will be available, expectations should be limited heading into 2018 as he's set to serve the role of fourth outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham also in the starting lineup.
Grichuk went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Sunday's season-ending 6-1 loss to the Brewers. Grichuk wrapped up an uneven 2017 in strong fashion, launching his second round tripper of the final six contests. The 26-year-old outfielder spent nearly a month in the minors refining his swing after slashing just .222/.276/.377 over his first 181 plate appearances of 2017. He showed a solid level of improvement upon returning June 25 -- generating a .249/.291/.539 line that included 32 extra-base hits (11 doubles, three triples, 18 homers) -- but he still sported a bloated 30.3 percent strikeout rate that was actually a tick higher than the 29.8 percent figure he'd tallied before the demotion. Grichuk undeniably has power to spare, so his primary offseason goals are likely to center on improving a subpar 68 percent contact rate and 5.9 percent walk rate.
Grichuk went 2-for-4 with a triple, a homer and two RBI in Tuesday's 8-7 win over the Cubs. Grichuk hit an RBI triple in the first inning and added a solo homer to make it 8-3 in the seventh. The latter proved to be an important insurance run when Chicago cut the deficit to one with an eighth-inning rally. He hadn't started a game since Sept. 21, but this performance could earn Grichuk more playing time in the final days of the season.
Grichuk went 1-for-3 with a solo home run during Sunday's win over Pittsburgh. The long fly gives Grichuk his second consecutive 20-homer showing, and he reached the benchmark in just 106 games. The 26-year-old outfielder has been showing more pop of late, racking up five bombs and a .551 slugging percentage through his past 15 contests (49 at-bats). Unfortunately, Grichuk isn't locked into the lineup daily and is still striking out 29.5 percent of the time. It's probably wise to view him as a boom-or-bust fantasy asset until he proves otherwise.
Grichuk is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Padres. Grichuk will head to the bench for a breather after starting seven of the last eight games, going 6-for-28 (.214) over that span. In his place, Stephen Piscotty is starting in right field and batting sixth.