In an attempt to win this season and hopefully entice Shohei Ohtani to stay with the team long-term, the Los Angeles Angels traded some of their better prospects in an already weak minor league farm system in exchange for veterans who were having mostly good years in 2023. Each player the Angels acquired was on an expiring contract, and we all know the Angels wound up collapsing immediately.
When the Angels fell out of contention, they opted to place six different players on waivers. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Matt Moore, Hunter Renfroe, and Dominic Leone were all claimed while Randal Grichuk was the only Angel to go unclaimed.
It's easy to see why teams had little interest in claiming Grichuk off waivers. The 32-year-old was slashing .140/.190/.280 with three home runs and seven RBI in 26 games with the Angels, and whichever team wound up claiming him would've had to take on the remainder of his contract.
While it makes sense for teams to have passed on him, Grichuk is making those teams pay. Since being placed on waivers, he's been a completely different player. He's slashing .323/.371/.615 with four home runs and nine RBI in 19 games. His 167 WRC+ in that span ranks 15th among qualified hitters in the majors in that span. Just a remarkable turnaround.
With that in mind, there're several contenders who wish they had reversed course and placed a claim on the journeyman outfielder.
1) The Toronto Blue Jays should've claimed Randal Grichuk off waivers
The Toronto Blue Jays are a team trying their hardest to cling onto their postseason spot. At 85-68 on the season, the Jays are currently holders of the second Wild Card spot, but they're just 0.5 games ahead of both Seattle and Texas who are tied for third. One loss could push them out of a postseason spot entirely.
Normally when we've discussed Blue Jays baseball in recent years, they've been more of an offensive juggernaut. This season has been a different story, as their starting pitching has carried them. They've needed another bat, yet outside of a failed Paul DeJong acquisition, have done basically nothing to improve their offense.
Grichuk wouldn't play every day for the Jays normally (he might've if he swung the bat this well for them), but he'd be a great fit for them against left-handed pitching. Kevin Kiermaier goes to the bench against southpaws, and Whit Merrifield primarily moves to the outfield. Whit should still be in the lineup, but he can play pretty much anywhere.
The Jays could've easily slotted Merrifield at second base, his natural position anyway, while putting the struggling Santiago Espinal on the bench or perhaps in the minors. Espinal has a .675 OPS against left-handed pitching this season, yet he hit fifth the last time Toronto saw a lefty on Saturday against Boston.