Randall Grichuk and Adam Duvall have a lot in common as baseball players. They’ve been corner outfielders for their respective clubs in the NL Central division. Both stand 6’1″. Grichuk weighs 205, Duvall 215.
Each of their teams has a fresh backlog of outfielders. The Cardinals recent trade for Marcell Ozuna of the Marlins and the emergence of Tommy Pham turned Grichuk into the club’s fourth outfielder. Likewise, the arrival of Jesse Winker creates an extra full-time outfielder for the Reds.
In terms of performance, Grichuk and Duvall have been quite similar the past two seasons.
Duvall has an edge in counting stats (WAR) because he played in more games. The two are almost dead even in run creation rate (wRC+).
Various projection systems see them as similar players in 2018:
Grichuk offers a little more pop based on the expectation that Duvall’s power will decline. Duvall’s ISO the past two seasons was .257 (16) and .232 (17). The projection services treat that as a trend. If you average Duvall’s numbers, he’s even with Grichuk in expected power.
In terms of contracts, Duvall is a lighter carry. Grichuk will earn $2.6 million this year and becomes a free agent for the 2021 season. Duvall will earn league minimum in 2018, around $600,000, and his team control extends through 2021. Grichuk is younger by three years.
Last Friday, the Cardinals traded their surplus corner outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays for RH major league reliever Dominic Leone and minor league pitcher Conner Greene.
In Leone, St. Louis acquired an excellent, 26-year-old reliever. Leone has pitched several seasons for the Blue Jays and is controlled by St. Louis through 2021. Last year Leone’s strikeout rate (29%) was well above league average for relievers (23.3%). His walk rate (8.2%) was below average (9.2%). His career GB% (47.4%) is above average for relievers (44.3%).
A tight comparable to Leone on the Reds last year was Raisel Iglesias (30% K, 8.8% BB).
In trading Grichuk, the Cardinals made the deal I proposed for the Reds at the end of September when I suggested they offer Duvall to the LA Angels for Cam Bedrosian.
We’ve observed the free agent market grow stagnant. Power-hitting corner outfielders aren’t scarce. Neither the Reds or Cardinals could expect a big return for their spare OFs.
But the St. Louis Cardinals made the deal anyhow.
Last month, they also traded OF Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A’s. The Cardinals front office recognized its emerging areas of depth and pro-actively took what they could get. They didn’t cling to popular former starters. The Cardinals cycle through their roster as needed.
Yes, there’s still time for the Reds to move Duvall (and Scooter Gennett). Given the market, the front office may not receive a “full” return for those players, at least what the average fan might expect. Jason Linden’s recent post does a good job of explaining that. But even if the direct return isn’t eye-popping, making those trades creates badly needed opportunity for players like Jesse Winker, Dilson Herrera and Nick Senzel.
Are the Reds blowing it?
Right now, we don’t know. And we may never know. Trade offers stay secret unless accepted. We can only speculate at what the Reds are asking for Adam Duvall or Scooter Gennett or what they have been offered in return. If the Reds are taking risk aversion too far, we can’t measure it. If paralyzing forces are at work in ownership and the front office, we’ll have to judge by inference and comparison.
In this case, by comparison to the St. Louis Cardinals.