The Blue Jays addressed their outfield situation by inking the three-time All-Star to a one-year contract.
The Toronto Blue Jays had a few goals heading into the off-season, but one of the priorities was to find a veteran outfielder to replace Jose Bautista in the lineup and offer a bit more lineup flexibility in 2018. On Monday night, they signed a man who they had been linked to for the better part of a year.
No, not Jay Bruce. He’s already signed elsewhere. The other Mets one.
The Blue Jays officially signed 36-year-old outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5M deal. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the move.
Free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson in agreement with #BlueJays on one-year, $5M contract, sources tell The Athletic. Deal also includes incentives and is pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2018
Granderson should be a familiar face to Blue Jays fans. The Blue Island, Illinois, native spent his prime with the Yankees from 2010-13 before signing with the Mets in 2014. He was traded to the Dodgers in August last season and was on the roster for the first two rounds of the playoffs during LA’s World Series run.
Last season’s stats will tell you that Granderson is not the feared center fielder he was when he terrorized the AL East. The 2011 AL RBI leader slashed just .212/.323/.452 for a 103 OPS+, his worst in a full season since 2009. The numbers dropped further when he got to Los Angeles, batting .161 and being left off the World Series roster. However, the force is still with Granderson, as he smashed 26 home runs in 147 games.
Blue Jays fans would be mistaken to think this is solely a reaction to the Andrew McCutcheon trade earlier in the day, or that this precludes the front office from signing one of the bigger-name outfielders remaining in the free-agent pool. The signing of Granderson is akin to last year’s Steve Pearce pickup.
Granderson offers positional flexibility, as he has played all three outfield spots in the last five seasons. He is also a vital left-handed bat, something that the Blue Jays were in desperate need of given the potential lineup for next season. The veteran, who will be 37 on opening day, has a .262 lifetime batting average against right-handed pitching. Combine that with Pearce’s .261 lifetime BA against lefties, and suddenly left field isn’t as big a hole as it seemed.
The Grandy Man also is still capable of producing more. As JftC’s Jeff Quattrociocchi pointed out in his piece detailing outfield options back in October, Granderson was worth 2 WAR, even with his sub-par batting average. He was victimized by a .228 BABIP last season and his power was more than enough to make up for it. As an added bonus for the few people who miss Ryan Goins‘ clutch at bats, Granderson batted .292 with RISP and two outs. Plus, as he will tell you, he has good game speed.
The @cgrand3 signing is good because he is fast. How do I know? He told me in 2009.
"Hey Curtis Granderson! How fast can you run?"
"You know, I'm game fast. I'm not that good just running being timed, but I've got good game speed."
True story. Good signing, @BlueJays. pic.twitter.com/qemJhDKO1Y
— David Venturi (@daveventuri) January 16, 2018
Finally, for a team now missing an elder statesman with the departure of Jose Bautista, not only can Granderson still play defense, he is one of the true “good guys” in the league. He spends countless hours with his Grand Kids Foundation, which benefits the education of inner-city children around the United States, and has twice been named the Marvin Miller Man of the Year for his off-field work. He will be an excellent mentor for the likes of Dalton Pompey and Anthony Alford, one of whom will likely take his place in 2019.
In the end, this is a very cost-effective, low-risk signing for the Blue Jays to both stabilize the outfield and get a left-handed bat with power on the roster. No, this is not the blockbuster free-agent move that fans have been dying for, but this is the Steve Pearce move. A compliment to the roster and platoon player who replaces what Jose Bautista brought last year at a fraction of the cost. Quattrociocchi speculated that Granderson would earn a two-year, $15M deal and Toronto has him at a third of that cost. If he produces 1 WAR this season, it will be worth it in the eyes of the front office.
Also, as an avid fan of the WWE, it’s possible Granderson could pay tribute to one of the best Wrestlemanias ever and use the Ultimate Warrior’s theme as his walk-up music, and that’s just an awesome thought.
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