What the Angels and Rockies Got in the Randal Grichuk-C.J. Cron Trade

Randal Grichuk and C.J. Cron
Images via MLB and Rockies

With less than two days before the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline, the Angels added a couple of bats to pair with Shohei Ohtani. Los Angeles added C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk in a trade with Colorado, as the now-former Rockies will re-join the organization that they started their careers with. Here’s a closer look at the deal.

Related: What the Rangers and Cardinals Got in the Jordan Montgomery-Chris Stratton Trade

The Angels’ Return

  • 1B C.J. Cron (.260/.304/.476 slash line, 11 home runs and 23 extra base hits over 56 games (224 PA))
  • OF Randal Grichuk (.308/.365/.496 slash line, eight home runs and 28 extra base hits over 64 games (263 PA))

The Angels bring back two of the team’s former first-round picks in C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk to bolster a Los Angeles lineup besieged by injuries. As of July 31, the Angels have a significant number of players on the IL — Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Brandon Drury, and Gio Urshela, to name a few — as Los Angeles heads into the month of August.

We’ll start with Cron, a first round pick by the Angels in the 2011 MLB Draft out of Utah. The 33-year-old played parts of four seasons with the Angels from 2014-17, but didn’t break out until 2018 when he blasted 30 home runs for the Rays in 2018.

Cron then bounced around between Minnesota, Detroit, and Colorado between 2019-23. He found a home in Colorado, a hitter-friendly environment and one that he took advantage of with his above-average power. Cron hit 57 home runs between 2021-22, and 11 more in 56 games this season.

Cron’s prone to chasing out of the zone and missing up, but he can do a fair amount of damage against both fastballs and breaking balls. Aside from 2020 and 2021, he’s never walked a lot but his power and ability to put the ball in play makes him an upgrade from Mike Moustakas, particularly against lefties.

Outfielder Randal Grichuk is headed back to the Angels organization. A first-round pick from 2009, Grichuk actually never suited up for the Angels in his career. While the outfielder was a Minor Leaguer in the Angels’ farm system, he was packaged alongside Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals in 2013 for Fernando Salas and David Freese.

Grichuk has historically been more of a pull hitter than Cron — and like the 33-year-old first baseman, he too is known to chase every now and then. He does, however, have good bat control and power, both tools that aided him in what’s been a pretty strong season for Grichuk. The 31-year-old hit .308 with eight home runs and 28 extra base hits prior to the deal.

Defensively, Grichuk hasn’t yielded plus grades in the Outs Above Average category since 2021 but his arm strength does grade out as above-average. He’ll likely slot into a corner outfield spot and replace Taylor Ward, who was just placed on the 60-day IL.

The Rockies’ Return

The Rockies picked up two lower-level pitching prospects in left-hander Mason Albright and righty Jake Madden.

We’ll start with left-hander Mason Albright, who was signed for $1.25M out of the IMG Academy back in 2021. A six-foot tall left-hander, the Angels reportedly tweaked Albright’s delivery and helped shorten his arm action, and the results have been fine to this point. The 20-year-old struck out 86 over 79.2 IP with Inland Empire (A), and his BB/9 rate dipped to 2.26, better than the 4.58 he sported a year earlier.

He’s shown four pitches that have flashed promise, including a low-90s fastball, changeup, cutter, and curveball. His delivery does have deception to it, and if he can leverage his stuff and effectively change speeds, Albright has the potential to be an intriguing starter in the Rockies organization.

The other arm in this deal is Jake Madden, one with a higher ceiling but an arm that has run into trouble as a pro. Reports indicate that Madden’s command has been an issue, and that’s easily visible in his walk rates. He’s allowed 39 walks in 64.1 IP (5.46 BB/9)  in the California League.

On the other hand, Madden has power stuff that’s not easy to find. The righty’s fastball can reportedly touch the upper-90s, and he also has a good slider and a changeup in his arsenal. The tall 6 ‘6’’ righty has helium, but he’s still far away from the Majors at this point.

MLB.com ranks Madden as the Rockies’ 20th-best prospect, while Albright slots in at #21.

The Verdict

The Angels headed into the Trade Deadline with a number of holes to plug. Thus far, Los Angeles picked up Cron and Grichuk to join the recently-acquired Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas, and fortified the pitching staff with starter Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

Given the stiff competition and a tough August ahead of the Angels — which includes series against the Braves, Astros, Rangers, and Rays, among others — Los Angeles will need the added bats.

As for the Rockies, Colorado picks up two more pitching prospects to its organization. Developing pitchers is not easy for any organization, but it’s critical for any team in order to win games. That’s even more true for the Rockies, a team that has generally had trouble attracting free agent pitchers thanks in large part to the hitter-friendly confines in Colorado.

Both are lottery tickets, but both also have potential to be potential options for the Rockies rotation in the future.