By Ben Ozur
With the recent news that Curtis Granderson is meeting with the Mets, we weigh the pros and the cons in this two-part series. To see the cons, click here.
Could it be, the Mets are making a big splash in the free agent market? In almost any other season in recent history, this would be a laughable statement. Not this year. With the big contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana, among others, expiring, the Mets have a decent amount of money to spend. They must be cautious to not put themselves in a similar situation to the one they just escaped from. They gave big contracts to Bay and Santana when they had the money to spend, and they didn’t really pan out. This offseason, the Mets are making it clear that they would like to be more aggressive on the free agent market. Top free agents, including Cano and Ellsbury, have been nearly ruled out. They could go after other top-of-the market guys, like Shin-Soo Choo or Stephen Drew. But what about Curtis Granderson?
This is a guy who is not far removed from superstar status. Beginning his career with the Tigers, Granderson was seen as an excellent catalyst for Detroit for many years. He hit for a high average, played elite centerfield defense, and had excellent speed. After being traded to the Yankees in a three-way trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in the 2009-10 offseason, some of this changed. His average fell a bit, defensive metrics didn’t favor him as much (though they are very difficult to measure), and he wasn’t quite racking up as many stolen bases (though it was still well above league-average). But what he was doing was hitting bombs, and plenty of them. 24 in 2010 (in an injury-plagued season), followed by back-to-back 40-homer seasons. In 2011, he finished in 4th in the AL MVP race but won the Players Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Player in the AL. Talk about a superstar.
2013 is the season that everyone will make people question his abilities going forward. It was an injury-plagued season in which he only played in 61 games – such a small sample size that the numbers aren’t too significant. But let’s keep in mind: these were freak injuries; he got hit by two pitches in the arm. Not easy injuries to recover from and still play at full strength. As long as these weren’t nagging injuries, like a hamstring or concussion, I’m not too concerned going forward.
Now, what does this all mean for his free agent stock? He just turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees to remain with them for at least one season at a salary of $14.1M. (Whether or not he should’ve accepted the qualifying offer is up for a different debate.) He did this in order to obtain a multi-year contract. He’s still just 32, which isn’t too old, so a three or four year deal isn’t unreasonable. I don’t know if he’ll be a centerfielder wherever he goes, but he showed last year that he could handle all three outfield positions pretty well. With a career OPS of .828, being an excellent defender in the outfield, and averaging 17 SBs a season, there aren’t too many things not to like about Granderson. I’d expect somewhere around a three year/$50M contract for Granderson.
Now, going back to the original question: would the Mets be willing to get a top free agent like Granderson? If the Mets really want to get a guy who has shown that he can handle both sides of the ball very well, why not? He won’t command the dollars that other top free agents are asking for, and he fills a HUGE void for the Mets in the outfield. He’s been on playoff teams, so he has the experience and the veteran leadership that the Mets are seeking. Should the Mets make it to the postseason in a few years – which they seem to be set up for – I think Granderson can be a key piece in making a run
Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.