When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Jedd Gyorko from the San Diego Padres in December 2015, it didn’t seem like a franchise-altering acquisition. It seemed partially like the Cardinals were just trying to unload Jon Jay, due to make $6.2 million in 2016 after an abysmal 2015 in which Jay had a 57 wRC+ (to date, the only season in which the outfielder has been a below-average MLB hitter by the metric) and was displaced by Randal Grichuk as the everyday starting center fielder. It seemed partially that the Cardinals wanted a backup infielder not named Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso. But regardless, it was a fairly quiet move which offered but a temporary distraction from following up-to-the-minute updates on Jason Heyward’s free agent status.
Jedd Gyorko has surpassed the wildest expectations of just about anybody who follows the Cardinals. Only Khris Davis has hit more home runs in Major League Baseball at a more plentiful rate since the beginning of 2016 than Gyorko. While he entered both 2016 and 2017 officially as a bench player, he managed to lead the 2016 team in home runs without a full-time position, and this year, Gyorko appears to have taken the title of starting third baseman from Jhonny Peralta, even when the latter returns from the Disabled List.
And although he was acquired as the return for a short-term asset, as Jon Jay’s contract only ran through the end of 2016, Jedd Gyorko is under contract through the end of 2019, earning $28 million for the remainder of the deal. In addition, the Cardinals hold a team option for 2020 with an associated marginal cost of $12 million. If Gyorko maintains his current level of performance, barring extreme dollar deflation, the Cardinals will leap at the chance to pick up that option.
Jedd Gyorko is primarily known as a prodigious offensive player, and with good reason: he produced a career-high 111 wRC+ in 438 plate appearances in 2016 and has …
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