The Grandy Man Can

Curtis Granderson will be 33 by the time the 2014 regular season starts. Will he prove durable? (USA TODAY Sports)

Curtis Granderson will be 33 by the time the 2014 regular season starts. Will he prove durable? (USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets and Curtis Granderson, the free-agent outfielder, agreed to a four-year, $60 million contract on Friday. There are plenty of ways to look at this. He’s 32, and the two things that made him particularly valuable throughout his career, power and center field defense, are young man’s skills. Moreover, expecting anything like his MVP-caliber 2011 would be a mistake, regardless of his age.

But this is a huge coup for the Mets because they need good baseball players, having very few of them, and especially in the outfield. Granderson is a pretty good bet to be such a thing in 2014, and arguably, in the years that follow.

The deal is not without risk. Granderson is getting plenty of comparisons to Jason Bay, which makes sense if you notice that Granderson’s current Baseball Reference top comp is Bay. It also makes sense, given that the last time the Mets signed a free agent to any kind of big-money contract, it was Bay, four years ago.

For much of the intervening time since, the Mets have been claiming that big contracts, and not ownership’s rocky finances, are the reason the team hasn’t done basic roster maintenance, let alone added big-ticket items.

But Granderson has some things going for him that Bay, and George Foster — another Mets outfield import who turned 33 just before debuting with the Mets back in 1982 — did not. Granderson was a center fielder for years, and thus should see his defense age better in a corner than Bay and Foster, who relied on their hitting alone to make themselves valuable by the time they got to the Mets.

Bay and Foster also became, essentially, platoon players upon joining the Mets. Granderson, who had major issues against lefties earlier in his career, has been roughly as effective hitting lefties as righties over the last three years, with some mechanical improvements. (Caveat: Bay and Foster’s troubles with same-side pitchers seem to have begun when each joined the Mets.)

But if Foster was the team’s announcement in 1982 that they were willing to add big names again, it hardly worked out. It was adding Keith Hernandez the following June, and Gary Carter after 1984, that made a larger difference in the eventual 1986 World Series championship year. (Foster was released in August 1986.)

It didn’t much matter, though, with a farm system capable of producing outfielders in bushels, from Kevin Mitchell to Lenny Dykstra. And they already had that Mookie fellow.

These Mets don’t have any such pipeline in the outfield. Granderson might be worth 2.4 wins above replacement, if Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS is to be believed (and lord knows, it should be). But replacement is an amorphous term. The outfielders the Mets have on hand without Granderson aren’t likely to rise to even that minimal level of production.

And as Toby Hyde, Mets prospect guru, pointed out when I asked him, no one in the organization is likely to rise to Granderson’s production, even in 2015. Squint hard, and you can maybe see Brandon Nimmo there by 2016. Of course, baseball teams still require three outfielders, and Chris Young is signed for only one year, so a logjam is unlikely.

Ultimately, if Granderson ages poorly, and the Mets use a single player averaging $15 million per season as a reason they can’t add other talent, when their only other post-2014 obligations are to David Wright and Jon Niese, they aren’t in a financial position to compete with the rest of Major League Baseball, anyway.

So rejoice, Mets fans! Tonight, we get to talk about a player who’s actually joining the Mets, not one of the myriad reasons and excuses why a player isn’t.

4 thoughts on “The Grandy Man Can

  1. Pingback: Mets sign Granderson 4 year deal - Page 6 - NY Sports Day Forums

  2. Again, the Mets Organization, as last year, felt they had to do a little something to maintain the loyal fanbase which has be dwindling. Ownership may be thinking that they really don’t want to do anything for 2014 more than they already have because they dont have Harvey.

    Each year that goes by, makes the money spent for Wright and now add to that Granderson a waste of money. They must make this team into a contender now. They need 2 more pieces……a solid Short Stop and 2 Starting Pitchers. I have no problem with them bringing back Matzasuke and maybe add a Colon or resign Santana after he shows hes back to a small contract….but what I would love to see is the Mets post for Tanaka and actually get him. 20 Million post and 15 to 20 Million to sign him would seem a lot. But what a pitching staff they would have for 4 or 5 years.

    1. Harvey
    2. Wheeler
    3. Synndergard
    4. Tanaka
    5. Niese

    Add some talent to the team during those years and watch out.

    If they did that I would be lining up my season tickets now.

  3. I like this. Granderson should be an above average defender, and hit about 25 hrs per year as much needed left-handed power. At this point, and since Harvey went down with the elbow injury, it’s all about 2015. With at least $12 million to spend in addition to Granderson, the Mets should sign Stephen Drew for about $9-10 million per year. There really is no other competition for his services other than the Yankees, and he hasn’t been as good or durable as Peralta, so the AAV would probably get that low. Then by 2015 we’ll have Harvey, Syndergaard, and Montero ready to join Wheeler and Niese in the rotation (trade Gee for prospects), without having to spend any money at all. Heck, with the extra money left over for 2014 if Ike is traded, we could sign Erik Bedard for one year at $5 million and flip him and Chris Young to a contender for prospects by next years deadline. Finally, here’s hoping we can acquire Joc Pederson from the Dodgers for a package including Wilmer Flores. They have literally no one they can plug into their 3b hole, and way too many corner outfielders to value a future right-fielder as much as he’s actually worth.

  4. The only free agent outfielder I liked was granderson, now if we can package Murphy , davis , and a minor league pitcher …montero , familia, .. And get a cargo, or Tulo,,Bautista,,,,sign a veteran pitcher or two….off season won’t look so bad…