The Cardinals traded their would-be fourth outfielder and got a lot of heat in return.
St. Louis dealt Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays for Conner Greene -- ranked as the team's No. 11 prospect -- as well as Major League reliever Dominic Leone, the teams announced Friday. The trade comes days after Grichuk said it was "disappointing" to lose his starting outfield spot to newly acquired Marcell Ozuna.
In Greene, the Cards acquire a hard-throwing right-hander who will turn 23 on April 4. The 2013 seventh-rounder has gained notoriety for a 70-grade fastball that typically sits in the mid-90s and can hit triple digits. Greene's changeup is his second-best pitch, receiving a 55 on the 20-80 scale by MLB.com last season, while his slider (50) and curveball (45) grade a bit lower.
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The California native spent the entire 2017 season with Double-A New Hampshire, putting up a 5.29 ERA and 1.69 WHIP with 92 strikeouts and 83 walks in 132 2/3 innings. His 13.6 percent walk rate was highest among all 66 qualified pitchers at the Double-A level, and those struggles with control could eventually lead to a move to the bullpen. Because of his relative youth, St. Louis will probably give him more rope as a starter, and he'll likely compete with flamethrowers such as Alex Reyes, Dakota Hudson and Junior Fernandez for the title of hardest-throwing hurler in the system.
Leone will head to his fourth organization since 2015. After spells with the Mariners and D-backs, the 26-year-old right-hander was a breakout performer in the Jays' bullpen, finishing with a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.
Grichuk is coming off his toughest season as a Major Leaguer. The 26-year-old, who first gained notoriety as the player the Angels took one spot before Mike Trout in the 2009 Draft, hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 homers and a 94 wRC+ in 122 big league gamess in 2017. He still has three more years of arbitration control, however, and could slide right into a starting corner outfield spot for Toronto. The Jays also reportedly signed veteran Curtis Granderson earlier this week, though the deal is yet to be official, and have Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, Teoscar Hernandez and Steve Pearce as other outfield options.