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Why did the Toronto Blue Jays trade for Raimel Tapia?

The Toronto Blue Jays trade outfielder Randal Grichuk to the Colorado Rockies for Raimel Tapia in a deal that will beef up their offensive production

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 22: Raimel Tapia #15 of the Colorado Rockies poses during Photo Day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 22, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.   Kelsey Grant/Getty Images/AFP
Kelsey GrantAFP

Randal Grichuk still has two seasons to run on his five-year, $52 million contract but the nine-year veteran has been traded along with $9.7 million to the Rockies. In return, the Jays will get speedy outfielder Raimel Tapia and minor league middle-infield prospect Adrian Pinto. The deal sees the Jays make a concentrated effort to revamp and empower their bats.

Essentially, the Jays are trading a slugger for a speedster. Grichuk got into 149 games last season and hit .241 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs. Tapia has a better average, but all for contact instead of power, hitting .273 for only 6 home runs and 50 RBIs, but the real deal-maker was the speed on the base paths. Tapia stole 20 bases, putting him tied for 14th in the league along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Trevor Story. Grichuk stole none. Adding Tapia to the already-prolific Bo Bichette gives Toronto a double-barrelled base stealing threat in the AL East.

With this trade, the Blue Jays also add a left-handed bat to their outfield, addressing the problem of their righty-heavy lineup. Tapia now joins Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire as the only lefty bats on the Jays roster.

Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins says of the deal, ”Tapia is exciting. He's extremely talented. There's a lot of tools and a lot to like about how he complements us with the contact ability, the defensive ability, the run tool and obviously being left-handed. We love the teammate. We’re excited to acquire him.”

"Tapia is exciting. He's extremely talented. We’re excited to acquire him."

Ross Atkins, Toronto Blue Jays General Manager

Tapia is set to earn $3.95 million this year, his last arbitration year left before hitting free agency. He sees the Jays as a legitimate World Series contender, saying, “I feel great going to a team like that. They’re really good. I feel like I can go out there and help them win, hopefully make the playoffs and win the championship. That’s what my goal is.”

Expanding on Toronto’s reasoning behind trading Grichuk for Tapia, Atkins continued, “It’s just a better complementary piece. Randal Grichuk is a great baseball player, but his skillset was very similar to our other outfielders. This is a very complementary piece for us.”

Also, the Blue Jays haven’t traditionally had a standout threat on the bases. “The baserunning tool is elite,” Atkins said. “Not just base-stealing, but one of the fastest baserunners in the game, first to second, first to third, second to home. There’s a lot of ability for him to impact our offense.”

For a Toronto team that saw great improvements in the second half of the 2021 season, giving the Yankees a good scare in the Wild Card race, this focus on upping their production plants a flag as a statement of intent for 2022.