Queens Bound Curtis
NEW YORK — The Mets and free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson have agreed to a four-year contract, according to the New York Post. The Mets have not confirmed the deal.
Granderson, 32, hit .229 with seven homers last season in a campaign largely decimated by injuries. A fractured right forearm and fractured left pinkie, each the product of hit-by-pitches, limited Granderson to 61 games.
Prior to that, he had spent two seasons as one of the league’s most prodigious power hitters, averaging 152 games played per year. Thanks in part to Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch, Granderson hit 84 home runs from 2011-12, increasing his annual average to 29 homers since becoming a full-time starter with the Tigers in 2005. Along the way, he developed a reputation as a positive clubhouse presence and leader.
Granderson is a career .261 hitter with extreme platoon splits: a .274/.357/.519 slash line against right-handed pitching, but just .226/.295/.409 against lefties. Once a dangerous basestealer, who swiped a career-high 26 bags in 27 tries in 2007, Granderson has stolen a combined 18 bases over the past two seasons.
Those trends, along with Granderson’s age and Citi Field’s dimensions, make a multiyear deal a risk. But with multiple sizeable contracts no longer bogging down their payroll, the Mets are committed to making a splash after mostly standing pat for three straight winters.
“It’s great to say we have financial flexibility and then blow it on players’ deals that don’t work out, and put yourself right back in the same situation you were before,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said earlier this offseason. “At the same time, at some point you’ve got to go for it. Having flexibility is great, but at some point you’ve got to put yourself on the line.”
The Mets are certainly doing so with Granderson, whose deal should be the richest Alderson has doled out over four winters as GM. Alderson’s previous most expensive deal was the two-year, $12 million pact that reliever Frank Francisco signed two winters ago. In terms of average annual value, Chris Young’s recent one-year, $7.25 million deal was the richest. (Those figures do not count third baseman David Wright’s eight-year, $138 million deal, which Wright signed while still under contract with the Mets.)
Beyond Granderson’s production, the deal should free the Mets to be flexible in their continued Hot Stove pursuits. Granderson’s power left-handed bat makes first basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda even more dispensable in potential trades for a shortstop or pitcher. With Eric Young Jr. defaulting back to a bench role, the Mets could also shift Young to his natural position of second base and deal Daniel Murphy.
The Mets remain in need of at least one starting pitcher and a veteran reliever, and ideally would like to upgrade their shortstop position as well.