The 28-year-old Butler, who was acquired on waivers late last season by the Cardinals, had been hitting .360 with an incredible 1.028 OPS while splitting time in the Memphis outfield. He’s a more logical fit as a complementary player off the bench than the 22-year-old Grichuk, who received solid playing time after being called up on April 28 but had seen his time drop off while hitting just .143.
More than anything, this move should show that the Cardinals have renewed faith in center fielder Peter Bourjos, who went 5-for-8 in two starts against the Atlanta Braves following a period of struggles which saw him start just once in 10 games. With Grichuk out of the picture, Bourjos should at least reclaim regular starting opportunities against lefthanded pitchers, but with lefthanded-hitting Jon Jay having gone 1 for his first 11 in May, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bourjos get the bulk of the playing time for the immediate future.
Butler will get another opportunity in the majors after playing in eight games for the Texas Rangers down the stretch last year. It’s debatable how much of an impact he’ll be able to make coming off the bench on a regular basis, but he gives the Cardinals a righthanded bat off the bench and isn’t going to suffer (like Grichuk would) due to a lack of regular playing time.
Meanwhile, Grichuk should go back to Memphis and assume the starting duties in center field once again. His arrival will create the biggest logjam in the outfield that Memphis has had all year, with premium prospects Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty needing regular time and big-league veteran Shane Robinson being entitled to at least a few starts a week. The biggest adverse effect, however, may be for Taveras, who some view as the Cardinals’ center fielder of the future but who will now be behind both Grichuk and Robinson in the center field pecking order at Memphis.