ST. LOUIS — Randal Grichuk wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of playing in a reserve role this season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
He won’t have to worry about that any more.
The Cardinals traded the 26-year-old outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday for reliever Dominic Leone and minor league pitcher Conner Greene.
Grichuk hit .238 last season with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs in 122 games. He became expendable after St. Louis got big-hitting left fielder Marcell Ozuna in a trade with Miami last month, and because of the emergence of Tommy Pham in center.
With Ozuna and Pham locked into starting spots, and former center fielder Dexter Fowler expected to move to right, Grichuk was the odd man out of the projected lineup.
“Knowing my role going in as the fourth outfielder and getting that pinch hit off the bench, it’s going to be difficult,” Grichuk said Monday. “I’ll have to give it all I got when I get the opportunity. You can’t let it get to you. This game is tough if you don’t get everyday at-bats. The fourth outfielder, that utility job, it is a tough job.”
Last month, the Cardinals also traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland.
After coming to St. Louis from the Los Angeles Angels in the trade that sent David Freese and Fernando Salas west in 2013, Grichuk hit .249 with 66 home runs and 182 RBIs in 404 games.
In return, the Cardinals receive a much-needed boost to their bullpen in Leone. The 26-year-old right-hander was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 65 games last year for Toronto, striking out 81 batters in 70 1/3 innings.
Leone is 11-8 with a 3.48 ERA in 160 career outings, all in relief, with Seattle, Arizona and Toronto. He pitched for the Mariners from 2014-15, the Diamondbacks in 2015-16 and with the Blue Jays last season, when he was fourth in the American League while stranding 42 of 54 inherited runners and limiting lefty batters to a .183 average.
Greene, a 22-year-old righty, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2013 and went 5-10 with a 5.29 ERA at Double-A New Hampshire last season.
Both Leone and Greene will be added to the Cardinals’ major league roster, which is at the maximum of 40 players.