Free agents: New teams for Granderson, Cano?
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | December 07,2013
NEW YORK — Free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson and the New York Mets have agreed to a $60 million, four-year contract, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the deal was pending a physical and no announcement had been made.
Granderson, who turns 33 in March, comes over from the crosstown Yankees and gives the Mets much-needed power in their punchless outfield. He batted .229 with seven homers and 15 RBIs this year, when injuries limited him to 61 games. But he surpassed 40 homers in each of his previous two seasons in pinstripes.
The move marks general manager Sandy Alderson’s most expensive free-agent signing — by far — after three years of bargain shopping as the Mets rebuilt.
A three-time All-Star, Granderson provides proven thump from the left side of the plate to complement right-handed hitter David Wright in a lineup that managed only 130 home runs last season — tied for 25th among 30 major league teams.
New York also signed free-agent outfielder Chris Young to a $7.25 million, one-year contract this offseason. Granderson has played center field most of his career but spent time in both left and right last season. He figures to fill a corner spot with the Mets, who plan to use defensive whiz Juan Lagares or Young in center.
New York’s outfield combined to hit .238 this year (29th in the majors) with 50 homers (tied for 24th) and 209 RBIs (16th), according to STATS. The group also includes speedy left fielder Eric Young Jr., the NL stolen base leader.
Granderson turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees to test the open market. The Mets, however, would not have to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign him because they own the 10th overall selection. The top 10 picks are protected.
Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011, when he led the American League in runs (136) and RBIs (119) and finished fourth in MVP voting. He had 43 homers and 106 RBIs in 2012, taking advantage of the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.
The Mets hope his power will translate to spacious Citi Field, where it’s more difficult to clear the fences.
Granderson’s numbers have declined each of the past three years, down to a .317 on-base percentage and .407 slugging mark last season. He also is prone to strikeouts — whiffing 364 times from 2011-2012 — and joins a Mets lineup that fanned 1,384 times this year, tied with Atlanta for most in the NL.
But his bat is a significant upgrade for the Mets, starved for offense following their fifth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field. Now, the club can focus on other areas of need — shortstop, first base, the pitching staff — heading into baseball’s winter meetings next week.
Granderson was on the disabled list twice last season after getting hit by pitches.
He missed the first 38 games after breaking his right wrist when he was plunked by Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ in his first plate appearance of spring training on Feb. 24. Not long after he returned, Granderson broke a knuckle on his left pinkie when he was hit at Tampa Bay on May 24.
That kept him out until August, making Granderson one of several Yankees stars to be sidelined much of the season. New York was unable to overcome all the injuries, missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years.
Granderson’s agreement with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.
Mariners mum on
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners were staying quiet on Friday about a potential major deal with free agent second baseman Robinson Cano.
The team issued a statement in response to an ESPN report that Cano and the Mariners had reached agreement on a $240 million, 10-year contract pending a physical.
“We are not able to confirm any news regarding Robinson Cano at this time. If and when an agreement is completed and finalized, we will announce,” the statement read.
Cano’s reported deal would be one of the largest in baseball history and a coup for a franchise that’s gone a dozen years since making the postseason. It would bring creditability for the Mariners after striking out in the past in their pursuits of big free agents like Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton.
Cano is a five-time All-Star second baseman for the Yankees. Last season, he played in 160 games, hitting .314 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs, while posting a .899 on-base plus slugging percentage. He finished fifth in American League most valuable player voting.
Seattle has plenty of financial room to make a large cash commitment. The only major contracts on the books for 2014 are for pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Helping provide room to increase the payroll is the Mariners’ investment in a new regional sports network that is expected to net Seattle significant revenue in the coming years and it’s not a surprise the club was able to make such a staggering offer.
But finalizing a deal with Cano won’t solve all of Seattle’s problems. It’s a start, immediately adding a legitimate slugger to the middle of a lineup that finally showed some pop last season after years of floundering with one of the worst offenses in baseball. The Mariners have plenty of other problems to solve, including adding another established starter to their rotation and finding solutions for an outfield filled with questions.