After five consecutive losing seasons, free-agent disasters like Frank Francisco and payroll slashing into mid-market territory, the New York Mets made a splash on Friday morning. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, ex-Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson is on his way to Queens on a four-year, $60 million deal.
#Mets have a 4-yr agreement with Curtis Granderson, the Post has learned— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 6, 2013
Just weeks after Mets general manager Sandy Alderson discussed a list of potential outfield targets to WFAN's Mike Francesa, two have arrived in Citi Field. First, Chris Young came aboard, representing a forward-thinking buy-low move. Now, Granderson creates an even bigger splash for a team desperately needing one.
This was a necessary move for a franchise starved for relevancy, past the slow, methodical payroll purge and close to respectability in the NL East standings. In Granderson, the Mets are adding a legitimate power bat, leader and fourth-place hitter to slot behind David Wright in the everyday lineup.
First, dispel any notion that Granderson's game was a creation of the friendly dimensions at Yankee Stadium. Throughout his entire career, dating back to his pre-Yankee days in Detroit, Granderson has profiled as a fly-ball hitter. According to FanGraphs, 44.2 percent of the newest Mets outfielder's batted balls in play are fly balls in his career.
Reality-based hope: Granderson's raw stats with Mets will look not like 2011 but 2007. More triples, fewer HRs, same OPS.— John Thorn (@thorn_john) December 6, 2013
Unless Granderson's move was from the Bronx to the Grand Canyon, plenty of those fly balls will find the seats and paying customers in 2014 and beyond. That thought process is buoyed by the noticeable difference in Citi Field's dimensions and how the park has played since the franchise made the decision to alter the fences after the 2011 season.
From 2009-11, the first three years of Citi Field's existence, the stadium was Petco Park east. Over the last two seasons, it's been in the top half of baseball in home runs hit per game, per ESPN's Park Factors.
With Granderson in tow, the Mets lineup looks much, much deeper and brighter than it did before Alderson convinced the 32-year-old to join the retooling franchise.
|1B||Ike Davis/Lucas Duda||0.2/-0.2|
Of course, there is still work to be done for Alderson and the New York front office. Granderson is an excellent first step, but more will be needed to field a consistent winner at Citi Field. As you can see from that lineup projection, the Mets need to sort their first base logjam, find a capable, everyday shortstop, add a veteran arm and subtract from their excess depth of young, high-end starting pitching to fill a void or two.
When the winter meetings begin next week in Orlando, the Mets should remain active.
Granderson's arrival helps give the Mets relevancy. It doesn't, however, give the team a pass to pack up shop for the winter.
Soon, the front office will make a decision on the long-term outlook at first base. When assessing the Lucas Duda vs. Ike Davis conundrum, no consensus emerges. Duda possesses better plate discipline, but Davis has a 32-homer campaign under his belt. Alderson shouldn't truly value one over the other this winter. Neither is a star. Thus, trading the first baseman that brings back the best return is crucial.
At shortstop, the team simply can't bring back Ruben Tejada to start in 2014. After an injury-plagued and disenchanting 2013, Tejada looks nothing like an everyday shortstop. If Stephen Drew's market price is within New York's 2014 budget, he would be a perfect addition.
Will the Granderson signing be a turning point for the Mets?
Finally, the Mets can't be afraid to use their young pitching depth in a deal to acquire an everyday offensive player. Despite the loss of Matt Harvey for the 2013 season, Alderson is blessed with rising prospects like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. If, say, Dillon Gee was coveted in a deal to bring back another everyday outfielder or shortstop, trading from a strength to fill a weakness is a very viable option.
Since debuting as an everyday player in 2006, Curtis Granderson has been a borderline All-Star-caliber player, worth 4.1 WAR per season, per Baseball-Reference. Granderson's WAR per 650 plate appearances, or, in other words, what he brings to the table when healthy, is 4.5 per season.
The 2013 Mets suffered a fifth straight losing campaign. By inking Granderson, the team took one big step toward breaking that streak. Now, the work left to do will decide if playoff-contending baseball will return to Queens next summer.