'Grand' Opportunity: Cubs Should Pounce On Detroit's Granderson

Matt TruebloodSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 29:  Center fielder Curtis Granderson #28 of the Detroit Tigers hits his second home run of the game in the second inning against the Texas Rangers on July 29, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Curtis Granderson, the Detroit Tigers center fielder and 2009 All-Star, may be available in trades, according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. If that is true, then Rogers and I agree on a corollary point: the Cubs must have him.

Looking toward 2010, the Cubs have three needs in regard to position players: a center fielder who can offset the defensive struggles of left fielder Alfonso Soriano; a left-handed bat to balance the lineup; and a slugger capable of picking up the slack if Soriano and catcher Geovany Soto fail to rebound from miserable 2009 seasons.

Granderson fits all three prescriptions to a tee. He plays above-average defense in center (an off year in 2009 notwithstanding; statistically, players often have one bad defensive year in every three of four, even the great ones).

He hits for power: 75 homers in the last three seasons, tied with Cleveland's Grady Sizemore for the most by a center fielder during that span.

Finally, he bats left-handed, and absolutely mashes right-handed pitching: .292/.367/.528 for his career, versus a woeful .210/.270/.344 against lefties.

Where he would hit is a relevant question. He has accrued over 90 percent of his career plate appearances as a leadoff hitter, but has a career on-base percentage of just .344, good enough but not ideal leadoff man material.

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The Cubs also need a fifth hitter to protect Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, and Granderson would seem a better fit there if Chicago can find a more suitable man for the top spot.

Wherever he hits, he will inevitably draw some comparisons to Alfonso Soriano, with whom he shares a similar statistical profile. While it may not be apparent, however, Granderson has substantially better plate discipline than the man who would be his outfield partner.

Better still, Granderson has a very reasonable $24 million left on his deal, which runs through 2012. The Cubs would then have a $13-million option on his services for 2013. He will turn 29 before Opening Day, but should thus retain his value for the balance of that contract.

It would take a lot to get Granderson. The Cubs might have to move a piece of substantial value, like Lee , to get the talent the Tigers would want at the low cost they need. Starlin Castro would almost certainly be a part of the deal.

But for Granderson's unique skill set—he had 20 or more homers, doubles, triples and steals in 2007, a feat equaled only by Willie Mays (1957 Giants) and Frank Schulte (1911 Cubs) in baseball history—the price is not too steep.


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