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December 6, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Granderson Takes the 4 to the 7 to $60 Million

by R.J. Anderson and Paul Sporer

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NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed OF-L Curtis Granderson to a four-year deal worth $60 million. [12/6]

Sandy Alderson entered his fourth offseason as Mets general manager with the organization's oft-questioned financial capabilities looming overhead. From the outside looking in, the Alderson-led Mets have progressed toward surrounding David Wright with quality young talent. It hasn't been easy or quick, and you wonder how a Jose Reyes trade would have changed things, but the Mets have two stars to their name in Wright and Matt Harvey, two MLB-ready youngsters in Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud, and more talented prospects coming. It was, in other words, about time to buttress the core with choice external additions.

Granderson is where those additions start. It's not that Alderson hasn't added veterans along the way, but that he's done so in ... well, the cheapest way possible. He deserves credit for finagling tremendous bang for his buck from veteran outfielders like Marlon Byrd and Scott Hairston, and for getting some contribution from waiver-wire pickups like Mike Baxter. For the most part, however, Alderson's Mets teams have been homegrown; even today, with Granderson included, the Mets have drafted or signed as amateurs 26 of the 35 players on their 40-man roster. But this offseason has been different. Alderson has, for the first time, signed free-agent hitters to deals worth more than $2 million guaranteed. Granderson's deal, as it turns out, is the first time he'd given a free-agent hitter multiple years.

It seems the Mets, who have won between 74 and 77 games in each of Alderson's first three seasons, are finally making a push to improve by spending money. And why not? Their next few budget years include guarantees to Wright ($20 million through 2018 before costs start to decline) and Jon Niese ($21 million over the next three seasons) and that's it. Sure, the Mets will have some increasing arbitration costs to deal with, but the slate is about as clean as it gets outside of Houston.

So, head-high in breathing room, Alderson is taking a slight risk with Granderson. The potential unpleasantness has less to do with his injury-ravaged 2013—he missed significant time due to a fractured forearm and finger, suffered on separate hit-by-pitches—and more to do with him turning 33 before the season starts.

For all the positives in Granderson's game—well-above-average power production, on-base skills, speed—he still represents a rare breed of player; one who combines old-player skills with young-player wheels. In addition to Granderson, five others spent the majority of their time since 2011 in center field while striking out at least a quarter of the time: B.J. Upton, Drew Stubbs, Michael Saunders, Jordan Schafer, and Rick Ankiel. Granderson is the best of the bunch, but there have to be concerns, on some level, about his ballooning strikeout rate in recent years.

Of course, there is value with Granderson beyond his bat. Assuming he slots into a corner, the Mets will have an impressive defensive unit that features three one-time center fielders. Last season, the Mets had the seventh-highest batting average against on fly balls. It's not fair to place all the blame at the feet of the outfielders, but the current group should help erase memories of Lucas Duda in left.

How Granderson ages will determine whether Alderson's first big deal in New York is a success for the long haul. But how Alderson proceeds in the next few months will tell us more about how the deal should be viewed in the short run. The Mets sacrificed their second-round pick to add Granderson, so you can understand if they're tentative about giving up their third-rounder to pluck Stephen Drew. Shy of upgrading at shortstop, Alderson figures to look for a few more arms—perhaps a Jason Hammel type for the rotation, and some help in the bullpen. Collectively, this isn't a roster that should compete in 2014. It should threaten the .500 mark, however, with the 2015 season looking like the year when Alderson's vision comes together.

Fantasy

Curtis Granderson

Granderson’s 40-homer seasons streak was broken at two thanks some errant pitches he couldn’t dodge. A broken forearm and pinkie put him on the DL two separate times and relegated him to 61 games. His departure from Yankee Stadium puts a dent in his ability to start up a new streak. Citi Field is actually helpful to home run hitters on both sides of the plate, but certainly not to the level of Yankee Stadium where Granderson hit 63 of his 115 home runs over the last four years. This isn’t Dexter Fowler milking Coors for all it’s worth, but Granderson certainly enjoyed his home park.

The lineup switch is actually a wash from 2013 with one superstar and mostly flotsam otherwise. Granderson is still a quality power-heavy outfield option whose price is down after a shortened season. It could take another dip with the move across town, but that would only make him more desirable because the change in venues isn’t that dramatic.

Eric Young

Young, the NL leader in stolen bases in case you forgot, is the biggest loser here because he has nowhere to play and his .645 OPS isn’t exactly forcing its way into the lineup. If he had a favorable split, he could’ve made found himself platooning with Chris Young, the team’s other new outfielder, but alas he is equally bad regardless of the pitcher. Young is an NL-only bench player at best right now, though he could still be a sneaky cheap speed option if playing time opens up via a Daniel Murphy trade.

Lucas Duda

Granderson absorbing a full-time corner outfield position certainly cuts into Duda’s chances at being a full-timer himself, but he should be platooning anyway. Duda can play left against righties with Granderson moving to center and putting Young on the bench. I’m not sure they want to pay Young $7.25 million to be a platoon player, but that would be the best deployment of their assets. Regardless of the outcome, Duda’s outlook is worse for now unless they do decide to move Ike Davis and put Duda in a first-base platoon with Josh Satin. With 15 homers each of the last two years in just 121 and 100 games, respectively, he has some intrigue even in a platoon role because it would be the long side, but those drafting now or soon should temper expectations as he needs at least one other move to clear up his path to playing time.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

Related Content:  New York Mets,  Transactions

14 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

alor112

Where do you see the Mets batting Granderson if they do not acquire any additional regulars? Thanks

Dec 06, 2013 14:41 PM
rating: 0
 
thsaladboy

My guess would be 4th. I imagine a line-up based only on players currently on the roster would look like:

1. Murphy/Eric Young Jr.
2. Lagares
3. Wright
4. Granderson
5. Chris Young
6. Duda/Davis
7. D'Arnaud
8. Tejada

Or maybe Lagares at 7 or 8, Chris Young at 2? Optimally Wright would bat 2nd, D'Arnaud 3rd (if he does well at the beginning of the season) with Tejada and Lagares at the bottom of the line-up, but we'll see what else happens this offseason. I have to imagine at least one, if not two, of Murphy, Young Jr., Davis and Duda will be traded.

Dec 06, 2013 16:40 PM
rating: 0
 
thsaladboy

This of course doesn't even factor in Wilmer Flores. Now that both Murphy and Young Jr are competition at 2nd Base, I imagine something like a super utility a la Edgardo Alfonzo's first couple of years with the team. It's not like anybody on the infield other than Wright is a must start over Flores level of player. If only he played a decent shortstop, they could play him over Tejada, which would make me very happy. Ah well.

Dec 06, 2013 16:48 PM
rating: 0
 
Robotey

do you think the Mets should deal Murphy? Can they sell high enough to make it worth it or hold on to him and his bat for another year ?

Dec 06, 2013 18:38 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

I hear ya. I'm not a big Murphy fan, but he's a 3 win player. They can't trade him just to trade him.

Dec 07, 2013 14:13 PM
rating: 1
 
ddufourlogger

He may be one of those guys who's better in fantasy than real life, as his D at 2nd is passable at best. But with this line last year: 188/658-92-13-78-23-.286, I'm pretty sure he was in the Top 12 hitters in Yahoo NL Only. That's not easy to replace. And I enjoyed having him at $7 last year.

Dec 09, 2013 10:45 AM
rating: 1
 
Dan W.

Lagares is way too high unless and until he shows that he can get on base. He's our #7 or #8 hitter on Opening Day.

Also, the best way for this team to succeed is to keep Murphy and Young and Flores on board and platoon creatively, Tampa Bay/Oakland-style.

So vs. LHP, you might have:
E.Young (2B)
Flores (1B)
Wright (3B)
C.Young (LF)
Granderson (RF)
D'Arnaud (C)
Lagares (CF)
Tejada (SS)
And Duda can play 1B some, with Flores moving to 2B and Young to the OF and Granderson sitting against tough LHP (unless he puts up his 2012 platoon splits).

And vs. RHP:
E.Young (LF)
Murphy (2B)
Wright (3B)
Granderson (RF)
Duda (1B)
D'Arnaud (C)
Lagares (CF)
Tejada (SS)

It would be nice to bring a platoon-mate (Stephen Drew, as mentioned above) on board for Tejada. That's not a WS caliber team but it's better than running the same 8 guys out there every day irrespective of the opposition.

Dec 06, 2013 17:48 PM
rating: -1
 
thsaladboy

The problem with this is way too much Eric Young Jr. I just don't think he's very good, and would rather they trade him, really. That's probably not going to happen, but he might be worth something as a 2nd Basemen. Certainly I think he shouldn't be starting in anything but the rarest of occasions. Also, I doubt they signed Chris Young to a $7.5 million deal just to be the short end of a platoon with an inferior player.

It is true no one in the line-up is a great fit for leading off, especially if Flores starts at 2nd over Murphy or Young. I also agree that Lagares is too high, though. It's just trying to figure out who's leading off and batting second in this line up is hard. Which is why I wish they'd bat Wright second. They might end up putting Tejada or Lagares near the top of the order because of their relative speed, even though neither is great at getting on base. I guess Tejada is better at it than Lagares, though. So maybe he leads off. That's a scary thought. So:

1. Tejada (Young Jr if he's the 2B)
2. Murphy/Flores (Tejada if Young Jr is the 2B)
3. Wright
4. Granderson
5. Chris Young
6. Duda/Davis
7. D'Arnaud
8. Lagares

And obviously they'll change it up depending on who is pitching or to get people rest. This is just a general guess on how it'll end up most of the time. As I said I'm hoping by May or June D'Arnaud has broken out enough that he can hit 3rd while Wright hits second or he can hit 5th, bumping everyone else down in the line-up. It'd also make me very happy if Tejada was not the starting shortstop next year (or if neither Duda nor Davis were the 1B), but as I said, I guess we'll see what happens the rest of the offseason.

Dec 07, 2013 02:47 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

I am still trying to figure out how the Yankees thought

Ellsbury (7/$153 mil) > Granderson (4/$60 mil).

Stupifying.

Dec 06, 2013 15:19 PM
rating: 5
 
Behemoth

Probably something about strikeouts, baserunning, defence and age?

Dec 09, 2013 05:25 AM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

I was wishing for a grandy return to motown not for the reason most tiger fans do (hes a nice guy and a positive role model) but because hes a lefty with power ( granted less in comerica than new Yankee stadium) who could cover lots of ground in left and simultaneously shore up the defense and make people pay for walking miggy. Alas a team that can't pay Doug fister can't find $15m per year for brandy. This is a great deal for the mets though because now David wright finally has some protection, he provides good cf coverage and hell be a great mentor and leader for the kids coming up

Dec 07, 2013 12:54 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

A lot of reason I'm glad the Mets got Grandy is how highly the Tigers and Yankees fans speak of him.

Dec 07, 2013 14:15 PM
rating: 2
 
izzy2112

Given his defense, putting Duda in the outfield would probably not be the best deployment of their assets.

Dec 08, 2013 07:39 AM
rating: 0
 
DrDooby

The Duda in the outfield expirement officially ended last season.
Duda will play 1b for the Mets if Ike Davis is traded. Or he'll be a LH PH off the bench. Or he'll be at AAA with his final option. Or traded instead of Ike Davis.
But the Granderson deal has zero impact on Duda.

Dec 10, 2013 12:45 PM
rating: 0
 
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