For many years, Randal Grichuk has been an absolute thorn in the Yankees’ side. Early in his career, the Yankees didn’t deal with him too much as he played for the Cardinals over in the NL. However, a January 2018 trade brought him to the Blue Jays and right into the Yankees’ lives.
In 250 career plate appearances against the Yankees, Grichuk has hit .253/.300/.524 with 18 home runs. It’s that home run total that’s especially galling, as 18 is the second most he’s hit against any team in his career. The only team he’s slugged more against is the Orioles, who — while good now — spent a good chunk of the last decade being pretty bad. Over his career, Grichuk’s put up a 114 tOPS+ against the Yankees, meaning he’s been 14 percent better against the Yankees than compared to his career norms, but that feels low. Even last year when he started the year in the NL, he managed to get the Yankees, going 2-for-2 with a home run while playing for the Rockies.
Now, Grichuk is potentially available to play for the Yankees, as he’s a free agent. Should he be someone the Yankees kick the tires on?
2023 Statistics: 118 games, 471 PA, .267/.321/.459, 16 HR, 44 RBI, 100 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
2024 FanGraphs Depth Charts Projections: 110 games, 476 PA, .245/.294/.413, 16 HR, 56 RBI, 90 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR
Previous Contract: Final season of a five-year, $52 million contract
Last year around the trade deadline, Grichuk was available, and there were some rumors that the Yankees were among the teams interested in trading for him. In the end, the Yankees didn’t end up doing much of anything, as they were were a giant vortex of meh, stuck between the two poles of wanting to add pieces and selling some off. The fact that Grichuk was a viable option shows the situation the 2023 Yankees were win. They were bad enough that they were in no position to trade important prospects for the big options, but not quite bad enough that they felt the need to do any sort of semi-teardown.
For his career, Grichuk has been a solid but unspectacular player, putting up a 100 wRC+, 103 OPS+, and 12.1 fWAR. With the bat, 2023 was Grichuk’s best season in a couple years. Prior to a deadline trade to the Angels, he was putting up a 116 wRC+ and a 120 OPS+ with the Rockies. Post trade, those numbers fell off a decent amount, but he still ended the season as a league average-ish hitter.
However, it has to be noted that — despite that run with the Rockies to start this season — he’s seemingly not quite the hitter he was with the Cardinals and Blue Jays. Well over half of that 12.1 fWAR in his career was from 2018 and before. Since 2019, he has a 96 OPS+. He’s still capable of maybe hitting around 20-ish home runs, but he’s not exactly great beyond that and has a sub-.300 OBP for his career.
Beyond that, Grichuk’s defense hasn’t graded out well for a few years now. He has played all three defensive positions over his career, and as recently as last season. However, right field is the one he puts up solid metrics at, and the Yankees certainly don’t need anyone to play there. He’s not a good enough hitter to put at DH, which will be taken up by Giancarlo Stanton/whoever’s getting a day off in the field anyway. The team’s recent additions of Alex Verdugo, Trent Grisham, and superstar Juan Soto only make this less likely.
Randal Grichuk was just a good enough of a hitter that he almost certainly would’ve improved the Yankees’ 2023 offense a bit, but you’d certainly like to hope that the Yankees will be shooting higher than that for 2024. Even if has pestered them in the past, it doesn’t look as though there would be much merit to putting him in pinstripes.