Christmas comes early: the Mets get their man

Curtis Granderson signed 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball card from my collection

Curtis Granderson signed 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball card from my collection

The New York Mets reportedly reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson on a 4-year, $60 million contract on Friday.

I have to admit that I didn’t think it was really going to happen – after all, we’ve had some front office fake outs and  it’s been nearly four years since the Mets have added a star free agent. (I really hope Granderson works out better than Jason Bay.)

Granderson brings some excitement to our hot stove season, and gives Sandy Alderson a bit more flexibility to make trades at the winter meetings next week. (At least one of Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares, or Daniel Murphy won’t be in the Opening Day lineup, in all likelihood. Hopefully Alderson can package one of his limited, but useful players with Ike Davis or Lucas Duda to obtain a starting pitcher or shortstop.)

But before we get too excited, let’s remember that Granderson is basically replacing Marlon Byrd. We can expect a little more power from him than we got from Byrd this year, but we’ll also get more strikeouts and a notably lower batting average.

And I would guess that the Mets are done looking at the free agent market except for some January bargain shopping. Chris Young and Granderson probably account for most of the money that Alderson had to allocate to new player acquisitions.

The success of the 2014 Mets lineup is going to hinge on Travis d’Arnaud, and whoever plays first base and shortstop as much as Alderson’s outfield upgrades.

Granderson wasn’t the most notable player who reportedly agreed to contract terms in Friday’s free agent frenzy. That would be Robinson Cano, who will be playing for the Seattle Mariners through his 40th birthday, earning $240 million.

Not to be outdone, the New York Yankees have reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Beltran on a three-year deal worth $45 million that will keep him in pinstripes through his 39th birthday.

Even the Boston Red Sox made a small splash, reportedly reaching a two-year, $32 million contract agreement to retain Mike Napoli.

First-RuleIf you think Major League Baseball free agent contracts are getting a bit out of hand, MLB Trade Rumors has some numbers that back up that idea. With just 55 players signed to date, MLB teams have already handed out contract commitments totaling $1.238 billion. To put that in perspective, last off-season, teams committed $1.393 billion to 112 free agents.

It’s a brave new world… let’s hope the Mets can afford to play in it and that the made the right choice with Granderson.

About Paul

NY Mets enthusiast, toy collector, amateur gardener, Christian. I like to take pictures & write things.

Posted on December 7, 2013, in Baseball, New York Mets and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. What an absolute waste of money.

    Granderson’s broken .250 once in in the last five years and he’s playing in a park where homers go to die.

    $15 mil a season for THAT?

    The Mets just signed the second coming… of Jason Bay. Heck, might as well sign Adam Dunn if he’s available. Yes, unlike Dunn, Granderson is faster and is also far from a defensive liability.

    I thought Alderson was doing “Moneyball” stuff in Oakland before Billy Beane did it. But the Young signing? And now, this? He should be checked for early onset Alzheimer’s.

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  2. I’m good with this signing. Granderson brings left-handed power, speed and very good defense to the outfield. He’s a definite upgrade, despite the low batting average. This is the market. If the Mets want to compete, this is the money they have to spend. They’ll never be able to address all their needs through “internal options.” He’s not Jason Bay, and he’s not Adam Dunn. He’s a 32-year old outfielder who should be worth 3-4 WAR per season for the next few years. Not the player who will single-handedly turn them into a winner, but definitely a step in the right direction.
    Also, if you want people to come to the ballpark to spend money, you have to give them a reason to show up. Granderson provides hope, and, therefore, helps give the revenue stream a bump as well.

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    • William,

      I don’t mind looking to the outside to find guys. But, considering the Mets’ situation, which is they’re not a couple players away from contending (more like eight or ten), spending THAT kind of money on THAT kind of guy (32 and with a higher bowling average over the past five years and I don’t care about the home runs as there’s (a) far more to the game than that and (b) the HR isn’t the weapon at Citi Field that it is in many other parks) at THIS time is stupid.

      If the Mets could have gotten Granderson for a third of what they’re going to pay him, I could go with that. Then again, they set the money bar high after they signed Young ($7 mil? What the heck was Alderson thinking?) Also, besides, by the time the Mets DO contend–2015, at a minimum, and assuming it’s the pitching that carries them, Granderson will be 34. He ain’t gettin’ any younger.

      In my opinion, signing Granderson isn’t a reason to get fans to show up. It’s reason to charge those that do more (hey, we have to pay off a $60 mil contract). But, unless the Mets sign/acquire another three or four guys in addition to Granderson, signing him will make no difference. The Mets will still be on the wrong side of .500 with or without him.

      And, if you want to use WAR numbers, Lagares (3.7, most of it on defense) was better than Granderson was in 2012, Granderson’s last full year. And, according to that stat, as much ground as he appears to cover, he’s been a defensive liability for the past three years. So, at this point, and given the choice of two, I’d hitch my wagon to Lagares before I did to Granderson. And, though Lagares surprised me as he hasn’t shown a whole bunch at the minor league level other than his stellar defense, that’s not a glowing endorsement. Then, if you’ve got $60 mil burning a hole in your pocket, find someone who’s worth it.

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      • What we’ve seen of the free agent market this off-season — and the Mets did not single-handedly create this market — is that any highly competent player is going to cost big money. The Mariners signing of Cano and the Yanks of Ellsbury are much more likely to turn out to be busts than the four-year deal the Mets gave Granderson.
        Also, this is not Granderson vs. Lagares. This is Granderson vs. the trash the Mets played in left field all of last season. No question we’ve just improved that position, and Granderson doesn’t have to hit 40 homers per year to justify his contract. 20-25 will do. (And yes, home runs do continue to matter, especially at a time when pitching has made a resurgence.) While he may no longer be a great center-fielder, he’ll be more than adequate as a left-fielder, which is where he’ll actually be playing.
        As for all the comparisons I’ve been reading about comparing him to George Foster, Jason Bay or, oddly, Adam Dunn, Granderson has always been much more athletic than any of those players. They were all statues who at one time could hit well.
        Finally, yes, the Mets need to make more than this one move to become contenders, and to put butts in the seats. Their attendance has fallen about 50% since the final year at Shea. But if Alderson makes a trade or two during the winter meetings, then the Mets are suddenly no longer doormats in their division. Can they contend as early as next season? Perhaps not. But should the Mets wait until 2015 before they make any significant moves at all? Five years from now, with current market inflation, this Granderson signing may seem like a relative bargain.

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        • William,

          Five years from now, Granderson will be 37 and his contract expired by a year.

          In my opinion, they’re wasting at least $15 million on Granderson for 2014 and, very likely all $60 mil, as he’s not worth that kind of money. Let’s put it another way, if Granderson were a horse and his last five years was his past performance line, would you put $60 million on the nose of that horse? My answer: Not a chance.

          As quick as he is (unlike the statue of Adam Dunn), Granderson is quickly heading toward one-dimensionalism. He might hit for power, though that will be stunted at Citi Field, he doesn’t hit for average and his defense is sagging.

          You don’t pay $60 million for “more than adequate.” I wouldn’t, anyway.

          Maybe I’ll choke on these words as the season goes on. We’ll see.

          Oh, and back to your first comment. Who created that market? Owners bidding against themselves, that’s who. No player has ever walked into contract negotiations with a gun. They don’t have to. Anyone who hands out a ten-year contract to someone, especially if it’s going to take that player past his 40th birthday, is an idiot who deserves to be separated from his money.

          If you want to control salaries, contracts should be three years, max. When a third of the league is a free agent every year (among the pool of those eligible, of course), the market will flood with these guys and salaries will come down. You won’t need a luxury tax. And, it wouldn’t be collusion, just a sensible business decision, which most sports owners aren’t capable of. And I’m a union guy.🙂

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        • Well, you would never get a three-year maximum salary clause past collective bargaining, which means that if the owners tried it themselves, for all practical purposes, that would be collusion. But, they’re never going to try that anyway, because 30 teams competing for limited talent is always going to work in favor of the players, as well it should. We should all be so lucky (and I’m a union guy, too.)
          As for Granderson, of course I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. But if he turns out to be worth an average of 3.5 – 4.5 wins above replacement over the next four years, considering so many other free agent signings in baseball history, I’ll consider that to have been a good signing.

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  3. I’ve seen this signing compared to the acquisition of George Foster and I tend to agree. The value of signing Granderson is symbolic, as much as anything. Its a message to the disgruntled fanbase and the scribes that the Mets are back in the game. Foster is thought of as pretty much a bust. Maybe Grandy will be, too. We don’t know that yet. But he’s already served a $60 million purpose. You have to turn that corner any way you can.

    I don’t think there are any bargains at the free agency market. I looked at the list and saw only two players of significant value (IMO)–Choo and Cano–neither of whom could be had without vastly overpaying. You think Cano is worth the years and money he got? I think he’s the best second baseman in baseball and I wouldn’t pay him that. Choo will not only command a premium, but he wouldn’t stir a blip in the hearts of your average fans. People who look at the numbers understand that Choo is a complete player, yet every year I was able to get him in my fantasy league in the mid-rounds–a league with people who follow the game, mind you–because he just doesn’t have New York pizzazz, for lack of a better term.

    I think Grandy is a relative bargain, given the market. I didn’t think he’d go for less than 65 mil. Looks like he gave a bit on the money to get a fourth year and I’m good with that. I’d consider it unlikely that that fourth year will be spent at Citi Field anyway. If you think Grandy is worth a third of what he’s getting, wait a couple of years when the free agent Grandys of the world are going for $180 mil. The Mets didn’t set the bar by paying Chris Young $7 mil. That IS the market. Young at 7 mil is right on price for what that level of talent is getting in the current market. Grandy at 60 is a bargain at market prices. The Mets didn’t set this market. Mets fans can’t simultaneously complain that the Mets are too cheap to pay market prices AND that they paid too much for Young and Grandy.

    Grandy brings the Mets a bat with real pop, to help protect Wright in the lineup, legitimate speed, and, yes, I think he’s a solid defender (don’t talk to me about “value above replacement” numbers–that’s junk science, as far as I’m concerned). I hear he’s a good guy in the clubhouse–a team player, not a prima donna–that’s always a plus. But, most importantly, the Mets bought themselves some credibility with this move–just as they did with George Foster when the Mets were (I promise you) much worse than they have been the last couple of years. They bought buzz, they bought time, they picked a guy off the Yankees (always a bonus), and they bought credibility.

    I–who have always argued that there is a plan in place and its working–have said since the end of the season that Sandy would bring in one legitimate bat this offseason. One. He’s done that. I don’t expect to see much more this offseason. Honestly, I don’t. I still think there are some good trades to be made, but I think you’ll find the other clubs to be the risk averse parties to those discussions, not Sandy. But, once the season is underway–and for the next two years, I’d guess–the Mets are going to be active, smart, and very opportunistic in the trade market. Ryan Braun can be had below market price, the Dodgers have an extra outfielder and a young shortstop they’ve given up on. Teams are lining up to get Ike Davis (Ike Davis in Milwaukee or Colorado would be a monster). If Omar hadn’t emptied our farm system, we’d have plenty of spare arms to deal (for the moment, we have just enough to trade cautiously).

    And you know, in your heart of hearts, the kind of beating the Mets would’ve taken in the press and from fans if they DIDN’T sign Grandy. It might not have been the move I’d have made, but it wasn’t (by any stretch) a bad signing. It’s a George Foster move and, as such, well worth $60 mil, even if Grandy doesn’t hit a lick. Oh, there’ll still be plenty of complaining when the Mets fight to stay out of the basement this year (thank God for Marlins), just as it was inconceivable the Mets could be worse with Foster than without and yet they were in 1982. But this is where we turn the corner and this is how we turn the corner.

    BTW, Foster was 33 years old in 1982, hit .247 with 13 HRs and 70 RBIs. Did a little better the next three years of his five year deal and we dumped him in 1986. I think Grandy is likely to perform as well as Foster did, if not better.

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    • Stubby,

      Though Foster was heading downhill in Cincinnati, at least he had two full seasons with the Reds before he was traded. And he hit .273 and .295, which is far more than what Granderson has done. Which meant that, another year older and the move to Shea, a reasonable expectation was .260 and 20 HR, which is pretty much what he did during his tenure with the Mets. Was it worth the $10 million the Mets gave him over that five-year period–a truckload 30 years ago? Hell no.

      Maybe the signing of a pretty good but declining player was the Mets’ attempt at legitimacy after the very dark late 1970s. And maybe that was OK then, even though it bombed. But this is 2013 and we’ve seen it before as history is about to repeat itself with the signing of Granderson. My guess is that Granderson has one really decent year out of the four with the rest being something less than what Foster did with the team.

      And the Young signing? Who else were his suitors and how much did they offer? I took a quick perusal and couldn’t find anything. Allegedly, only the Mets offered him a chance to compete for the CF job. OK, fine. But you don’t pay $7 mil for that. Young for a mil? OK, worth a shot? But the Mets bidding essentially against themselves and overpaying by at least $6 mil? Stoooopid.

      In my opinion, these were two very dumb deals. I’d rather see the team win 70 next year without these guys than with them, which is what they’re likely going to do. After all, they just paid two dubious players $22 mil to play for them next year and the results will likely not be much different, certainly not anything that justifies that expenditure.

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      • You have to stay til the end of the movie. Was the Foster signing a bomb? Well, what’s your perspective? The Mets of the late 70s and early 80s were so bad, even the rats wouldn’t go to Shea. Foster gave the team credibility. It sent a signal to everyone else. Suddenly, the prospect of playing for the Mets wasn’t going to get a guaranteed Richie Hebner wretch from free agents and players with veto power. What Foster actually did–and, honestly, he wasn’t as bad as people seem to remember–was incidental to his value to the team.

        Yes, we’ve seen this movie before. And the fact is the Mets, most fans will tell you, are no longer a major league team (I’d disagree, but I always seem to be on the other side of the haters). The refrain we always hear is “Poor David Wright. He’ll never win a title. Who is going to want to come play for this team?” You sign a Grandy (at, your feelings aside, what I still feel to be a bargain price in today’s market–as insane as it is) and suddenly that calculation changes.

        Yes, we’ve seen this movie before. Last time, it ended with a World Championship. Please, dear God, LET this be history repeating itself.

        As for Young, you just aren’t up with the times. Young’s value on today’s market is 7 mil, give or take. I know its insane, but that’s what it is. There were other clubs looking at him–Seattle and Florida to name two. What used to be the one million dollar roll the dice player is now the 7 million dollar roll the dice player. It just is. I’d have passed, but I can see the potential upside of the gamble. Me, personally, I’d stay out of free agency entirely. I don’t care who is available. I’d stick to trades. But the Mets just didn’t have that luxury right now. They had to send a signal that they’re still a major league team. Grandy does that, just as Foster did in ’82. Who knows, come July some team might be in the thick of things and want a left-handed bat and, voila, Grandy turns into two young Wheeler types just like that.

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        • Stubby,

          As a Mets’ fan since ’65, I was there, too, when the Mets were drawing less than 10,000 a game. So, what did I think of the Foster signing then? Jeez, it’s been 30 years and with selective memory and all…

          I’d like to think my memory was that they were getting George Foster–a pretty decent George Foster, but not THE George Foster who terrorized pitchers in the mid ’70s. We didn’t have access to stats the way we do now, so all we could see that Foster was in decline, but we didn’t really know by how much. And there was always hope that he could flash some of that mid ’70s brilliance again.

          And, now, we have access to stats that show us that, like Foster, Granderson is a guy in the decline phase of his career who will make little difference to the Mets. And, what I’ll say to William in my next post is what I’ll say to you now. And that is, if a declining Granderson is even worth four wins a year, that’s worthless to a team that won 74–for two reasons. The first is that the team won 74, so it’s not the difference between 90 and 94, which is likely a VERY big deal. And Granderson isn’t replacing zero. Eric Young was worth about one win over 91 games to the Mets last year. So, one and change if pro-rated over a full season? So, what would the Mets get with Granderson? 2 1/2 more, at best? That ain’t $60 million worth. And, if he magically turns into Marlon Byrd and becomes bait on a hook, that $60 mil will be more like an anchor than bait.

          Getting back to Foster, he was maybe the fourth or fifth wheel on the Mets offense when they started to get good. It was the pitching that brought them back, along with acquisitions like Hernandez and Carter and Strawberry coming out of the minors and Carter and Hernandez had noticeably more value than Foster at the time all were acquired. Foster was a bat in decline and very suspect defense. Carter and Hernandez were none of that and, as much as Carter went downhill quickly, he was far more than serviceable and provided the much-needed spark and leadership. Foster didn’t do any of that and the thought that Foster would provide something, anything, to the Mets was built more on wishful thinking than anything. Once again, it’ll be the pitching that brings the Mets back.

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  4. William,

    Can’t use the “reply” button as it appears we’re out of replies.🙂

    See what I wrote to Stubby.

    Granderson, in what clearly appears to be the decline phase of his career, is worth very little of that $60 million to the Mets. First, who is he replacing? Eric Young? The ghost of Marlon Byrd, who actually had a 5 WAR combined last year? Are the Mets hoping that Granderson turns into Marlon Byrd and enjoys a resurgence? Are they gambling $60 million to find that out?

    If Granderson is replacing Young, well, Young had a value–probably about a 1 1/2 WAR, pro-rated. So, if they get 4 out of Granderson, that’s really 2 1/2. And, for $60 million and for a team that won 74 each of the last two years? There’s no value in that. If it was the difference between 90 and 94 wins, I’d agree with you.

    And, if Granderson magically reverts back to that one really good year he had in Detroit, or even that .262 year he had with the Yankees (remember, he’s had only two really great years in his career and a handful of pretty decent ones–don’t get hung up on the homers as there’s more to the game than that), then he’ll be trade bait. And, as I said to Stubby, with that $60 million contract, that bait on the end of the hook will be more like an anchor and you can bet the Mets will be forced to eat a chunk of his contract.

    I see Granderson as another George Foster. He won’t help the Mets win as the difference between 74 and 78 wins isn’t much in the way of help. And, by the time the Mets rebuild and become contenders again, it’ll be on pitching and Granderson won’t be an integral part of that. For $2-3 mil a year with generous incentives, it’s worth a shot. For $60 million? Absolutely insane.

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