Mets fans can finally let out their collective sigh of relief.
The New York Mets and free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson have agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal.
Hiding in the shadows of Robinson Cano’s megadeal and the Winter Meetings in Orlando, the Mets signing represents a major olive branch between an embattled front office and bitter fans.
Granderson, 32, is far from a safe investment after batting .229/.317/.407 in an injury shortened 2013. But as CBS’ Mike Axisa points out, the move was about more than just production.
GM Sandy Alderson needed to prove to fans that he, along with ownership, has the confidence and the resources to shop aggressively and pursue top-level players. Prior to the Granderson deal, in four years, Alderson spent a total of $30 million dollars on free agents, primarily seeking players coming off down years and risk/reward gambles.
Granderson played only 61 games last year, making two trips to the DL after being hit by pitches. The size of the contract indicates the Mets expect the Chicago-product to return to his pre-2013 form, when he was a premier power hitter.
From 2011-12, Granderson belted a ML best 84 homers and posted an impressive .270 ISO, ranking behind only Jose Bautista and Giancarlo Stanton. Detractors point to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium as the source of Granderson’s power, but according to overlay charts at ESPN Home Run Tracker, the majority of his 2012 long balls would have reached the seats in spacious Citi Field as well.
For the Mets, however, Granderson is more than just power. Even entering his age 33 season, he still runs well in the field, and he’ll likely increase his stolen base totals playing in Terry Collins’ aggressive baserunning style. Defensive metrics show the former Yankee was a disaster in center field, but in Queens, Granderson will likely slide over into a corner outfield spot. His speed, along with the stellar defense of Juan Lagares and newly signed Chris Young, should give the Mets a strong outfield behind their young pitchers in 2014.
Analysis aside, Granderson seems like a strong fit in Queens. Its a tired but valid narrative that not all players can succeed in New York. Granderson thrived while player for the crossborough rivals, and is almost universally respected and admired by teammates. After news of the agreement broke, he told reporters that Captain David Wright texted him early in the offseason confessing a desire to play alongside the former All-Star.
Alderson reportedly was hesitant to guarantee a fourth year to an aging player, but finally decided it was time to pull the trigger and finalize a major deal to improve his team.
Granderson represents a second veritable Major League voice among a sea of eager young players trying to find a permanent place in the league. He’s a capable replacement for Marlon Byrd’s production, and left-handed protection for Wright. He gets on base and he’s active in the community. He isn’t the final piece, but he’s a great fit and a step in the right direction for a franchise ready to win.