The Cardinals have optioned starting center fielder Randal Grichuk to Triple-A Memphis and recalled Tommy Pham to take his place, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As Goold notes (on Twitter), the Cardinals are hoping Grichuk reacts similarly to a demotion as Kolten Wong did. Despite signing Wong to a $25MM extension during the offseason, the Redbirds sent Wong to the minors June 6 after he got off to a nightmarish start during the first two months of the year. Wong then slashed .429/.529/.929 with four home runs in 34 Memphis plate appearances to regain his spot on the Cardinals’ roster.
Grichuk, 24, was a rookie revelation for the Cardinals in 2015, compiling a stellar .276/.329/.548 line with 17 homers and a .272 ISO in 350 PAs. Grichuk’s production was 37 percent better than the league average in 2015, per wRC+, but he’s down to .206/.276/.392 (20 percent below average) and a .186 ISO in 250 trips to the plate this year. Grichuk’s decreased output has come in spite of improving his walk rate from 6.3 percent to 8.0 percent and striking out at a noticeably lower clip (31.4 percent to 24.0). His batting average on balls in play has tumbled from .365 to .238, however, and he’s hitting fewer line drives and more grounders.
Pham, like Grichuk, was outstanding for the Cardinals last season, putting up a .268/.347/.477 line with five long balls in 173 PAs and providing plus defense. The 28-year-old has spent the vast majority of 2016 in Memphis thanks in part to an early season oblique injury, though, and has hit a disappointing .236/.344/.382 in 128 Triple-A PAs. The right-handed Pham figures to platoon in center with the lefty-swinging Wong, as Roster Resource shows.