The thing about the MLB offseason, the Hot Stove season, is that until the ink is dry, most of the rumors and gossip is pure speculation.
Now, personally, I don't particularly like to speculate. I understand the allure of speculating about new additions, fantasizing about new lineup possibilities, etc. But typically I like to wait until the dominos start to fall and more concrete information is available. That's just me. I'm weird like that.
When it comes to the New York Mets, of course, speculation is especially difficult, due in large part to the uncertainties with the budget, the resources ownership can afford to the front office, and all that good stuff. Mets fans are a passionate bunch, and we all want to win, and there's a million different opinions on how exactly to get there.
Despite my general aversion to discussing things that haven't happened, or may not even happen, I'm going to break from convention and talk a little bit about a potential free agent target, outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Here's what we know: Granderson is 32 years old (33 in March), he's a veteran of 10 Major League seasons, he grew up in Chicago and he's a pretty good baseball player. How good is up for debate. He's also a high-character guy, as evidenced by his 2009 Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, given to "the player in either league whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement."
Granderson has a charity foundation that benefits education for inner-city children, and he's generally regarded as one of the true good guys on and off the field. He's pure class, and he's easy to root for. He'll be a fan favorite wherever he ends up next year.
The question comes down to, is he the type of player worth bringing aboard on a potentially lucrative multi-year contract? With the minuscule margin for error the Mets have with their finances, they can't really afford another Jason Bay-type misstep in free agency.
A quick glance at the numbers shows that, as recently as 2011, Granderson was a 40 homer/25 steals guy (41 home runs, 25 stolen bases, to be exact) and in 2012, he hit 43 home runs. Last season was a disaster, with injuries limiting him to just 61 games, and a precipitous power drop. He went from a .290 ISO in 2011 to .260 in 2012, and then just a .178 ISO in 2013.
Another thing that stands out is the on-base percentage. In 2011 he posted a solid .364 OBP, only to see it drop to .319 in 2012 and .317 last year. Nevertheless, I'm not buying the OBP as a red flag. Granderson still has a career OBP of .340 and a career walk rate of 10.2%. The OBP drop in 2012 and 2013 is due more to a drop in batting average than a drop in BB%, as he still posted a solid 11.0% walk rate in each of those two seasons.
Then there's the question of how the power would translate to Citi Field. Nobody's ever hit 40 home runs at Citi Field, much less 84 bombs in a two-year span like Granderson did at Yankee Stadium in 2011 and 2012. But Granderson hit 20 of his 41 homers on the road in 2011, with a 26/17 home/road homer split in 2012.
Granderson's best WAR season actually came in spacious Comerica Park in 2007, when he hit 23 home runs and a league-leading 23 triples, with a 135 OPS+ and career-best 6.2 oWAR as well. Obviously he's not 26 years old anymore, and I doubt he'll hit 40 home runs in a season again, but I'm not all that concerned that his bat is suddenly going to fall off a cliff like Jason Bay.
There are no flawless players in baseball, and free agency will never be what it used to be, but I do think, if the price is right, (and yes, that's a gigantic "if") Curtis Granderson could be a great fit in left field for the Mets in 2014. He'll probably command a three- or four-year deal, but I doubt he'll command the dollars or years that Shin-Soo Choo will.
Then again, this all speculation. And I really don't like speculation. I do think, however, that Granderson is a quality option for the Mets to consider. He's certainly not without his risks, but this is still a guy who put up a 23.0% and 22.5% line drive rate over the last two years. I think he's just as equally a candidate to bounce back with some strong seasons the next two or three years as he is a candidate to be a free agent bust.
He turned down the Yankees' qualifying offer, so he'll cost the Mets a second-round pick to sign. But that's not too much of a deterrent for me. I don't know what the market value is for a soon-to-be 33-year-old outfielder, but I think Granderson would be a suitable fit in Queens. It seems the Mets will seriously consider him, and I hope the feeling is mutual.