MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

The Blue Jays Should Be Pursuing Curtis Granderson, Not Jay Bruce

Today, the New York Mets and Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a four-year deal worth $110 million, representing the first major free agent contract to be handed out this winter. While this move certainly seemed likely given the mutual interest expressed by both sides in hammering out a deal, it was shocking because the Mets now still have more outfielders than they do positions to play them.

One of those outfielders is Jay Bruce, the defensively challenged, dinger hitting, Ross Atkins favourite, who was almost acquired by the Blue Jays back in March before a prospect in the deal failed his physical. The team tried once again to acquire his services in July, but he was ultimately traded to the Mets and the Blue Jays ended up with Melvin Upton Jr. instead. Now, rumours are tying the two sides together once more.

However, a move to acquire Bruce would be less than inspiring, to say the least. Yes, he does some things well, but the negatives outweigh the positives. He hits home runs and will only be payed $13 million in 2017, but he can’t hit lefties, is a liability in the field, and doesn’t get on base all that much either. Not only is he not the best corner outfield option on the market, but he’s not even the best option on the Mets.

Curtis Granderson is the best Mets option.

The soon to be 36-year-old, like Bruce, also hits from the left side, fulfilling the Blue Jays’ desire to get more left handed this off-season. He’s scheduled to make $15 million in 2017 in the last year of a four year deal he signed with New York before the 2014 season. Although that number is a couple million more than what Bruce will earn, the cost is worth it. In 2016, Granderson put up a .237/.335/.464 slash line, good enough for a .296 tAV. Included in that total was 30 home runs, a great 11.7% BB%, and an ok K% of 20.5%. Those last two numbers are especially important.

According to a source within the club, the Blue Jays have been aggressively pursuing leadoff options this winter and they feel Curtis Granderson can fill that role.

In fact, in 81 of his 150 games in 2016, he led off the game for the Mets. Of course, just because a player has experience leading off doesn’t mean he is automatically a good choice for that role, but given the current construction of the Blue Jays’ offense, he would instantly become the best option for the job. He also sees a lot of pitches, 4.19 per plate appearance for his career, and 4.24 in 2016, which was 12th in all of major league baseball. That is a skill a team looks for in a batter who will sees the most plate appearances in a game and gets up to bat before anybody else has seen the opposing pitcher that day.

“the Blue Jays have been aggressively pursuing leadoff options this winter”

Another advantage Granderson has over Bruce is that, despite his age, he has managed to play the outfield relatively well recently. In fact, in over 3300 innings in right field since signing with the Mets, Granderson has saved 12 runs according to DRS. Contrast that with Bruce, who in the same time period has cost his teams 12 runs defensively. That’s a swing of 24 runs, or 2.4 wins.

Of course, Granderson doesn’t come without concerns as well. Despite those 30 home runs in 2016, his average exit velocity on balls hit was 88.43 mph, compared with the MLB average of 89.57 mph. That is especially concerning given that he’ll be playing the entire 2017 season as a 36-year-old, and a sudden drop of talent could be right around the corner. Additionally, his legs have definitely taken a hit since his younger days, and playing 81 games on the outfield turf at the Rogers Centre could certainly lead to more issues. At the beginning of his career with the Tigers and Yankees, he was a legitimate 20 stolen base threat, but he has only put up double digit stolen bases once in the past four years.

None of this matters if the two teams can’t agree to a fair price, and that may be difficult. The Mets have a surplus of outfielders, and presumably they’d like to keep the better ones, Curtis Granderson being one of them. Thus, their preference to trade Bruce instead makes sense, and the Blue Jays will likely have to pay a higher price to acquire Granderson than Bruce. However, the two teams have been talking, and according to the source, Granderson is a lot more available now than he was last week, when the Blue Jays first asked about him.

Newsdays’ Marc Carig echoes some of that sentiment, noting that the Mets are at least listening on Granderson.

Ideally, the Blue Jays wouldn’t give up anything of value to fill their holes, and instead would just sign players from the free agent market to do that. Dexter Fowler would be the best option. But, it isn’t an ideal world, and because money always has to be taken into consideration, trading for Granderson and absorbing the one year left on his contract instead of dishing out four or five for Fowler might make more business sense.

Oh, and there’s this.

Grandy thinks highly (or the complete opposite) of the Toronto fans. That’s a player that needs to be here.

Lead Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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