The case for trading Curtis Granderson instead of Jay Bruce

Jay BruceOn Thursday my esteemed Mets360 colleague Charlie Hangley made a convincing case to Sandy Alderson that in trading a lefty hitting veteran outfielder it should be Jay Bruce, not Curtis Granderson, who gets moved.

It is undeniable that Curtis Granderson is a fine baseball player and an even more exemplary human being. He epitomizes what we would all like to see in an athlete. There are really too few “role models” among the top athletes in any of the major sports. Granderson certainly is one of them.

Where he has been likened to David Ross and David Ortiz I would even throw in the throwback name of Ernie Banks. Banks played the game with an infectious enthusiasm and like Granderson seemed to have a perpetual smile pinned on his face. Granderson is justifiably popular with his teammates, Mets fans, Tigers fans, and Yankee fans.

OK, so why should one consider trading this player over a player who doesn’t seem to care all that much for the city of New York and who played quite poorly for the Mets when acquired from Cincinnati on August 1st of this year?

There are several reasons.

At the top of the list is the fact Bruce is a true right fielder. Granderson has always had decent range when used as a corner outfielder but has one of the weakest arms in baseball. Other teams know this and take advantage of his arm at will. Just as base stealers steal gleefully against Noah Syndergaard so too base runners fly from first to third base on almost any single to right field. Similarly they score from second on even short singles to right.

Ideally Granderson should be the Mets’ left fielder which would hide his throwing imperfections somewhat. But we all know that the welcomed resigning of Yoenis Cespedes has placed him in left field for the next four years.

Bruce is no gazelle in the field and has somewhat less range in right than Granderson. But Bruce possesses a true right fielder’s arm. A good many of those runners who would easily go first to third on Granderson would be pulling up at second if Bruce is manning right. This leads to runs saved quite often.

Offensively it is difficult to know which of these two players would bring more to the table. The Steamer projections for the two does give an edge to Granderson based mostly on the superior on base percentage he has.

Season Team PA HR AVG OBP SLG WAR
2017 J.Bruce 590 25 0.234 0.301 0.440 0.6
               
2017 C.Granderson 624 23 0.235 0.334 0.423 1.5

What projections like the above can not totally quantify is the chance of a player, due to injury, missing significant time on the field. And while Granderson certainly looks fit and flexible, more so than the ponderous Bruce, he is six years older than Bruce. On opening day Granderson will be a baseball grey beard of 36 years old while Bruce will be 30. That’s a significant enough difference to make one wonder who really is the more likely player to be on the field for 600 or more plate appearances.

There is also the matter of finances. Granderson will make $15 million during the 2017 season, Bruce $13 million. It is still debatable as to whether the Mets see themselves right now as a large, medium, or small market team based on payroll. My inclination is to think of them now as a middle market one and these teams factor in a few million here or there.

Lastly, and only Alderson knows this, there is the matter of which player can bring back more in trade. The rumor mill scuttlebutt is that Alderson has had more inquiries about Granderson than about Bruce. If so it is likely that Granderson can bring the team a better relief arm or prospects than can Bruce.

So while personally I would feel bad seeing the team jettison Granderson this offseason baseball-wise it might be the smarter move.

28 comments for “The case for trading Curtis Granderson instead of Jay Bruce

  1. Michael
    December 3, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Trade both. Let Conforto play right field, that 28 million will come in handy during the season.

    Let Lagares/Nimmo handle center. Will be a fun team to watch.

    • Eric
      December 3, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Somewhat risky Michael since we really don’t know what to expect from all three but that said I’.m not totally against it even though Nimmo is not a real CF.

      • Michael
        December 3, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        Eric, I’m a bit prejudice cause I really liked what I saw from Nimmo last year. But my thinking is if we wanna build a dynasty, which we probably can, we need to unload older players (as much as people like Granderson) and let the younger players develop. That’s what the evil empire did for awhile, while they were really good. I’d rather have a good team for awhile then a world series contender contingent that some older players don’t get hurt. We can always pick up some overpaid older players once some teams realize they’re no longer in contention. Guarantee you some really good outfielders/catchers will be available by May/June, we’ll just need room on our payroll to pick them up.

        • TexasGusCC
          December 4, 2016 at 12:47 am

          Michael, loved your opening, liked your middle, but your consclussion made me worry. Unfortunately, the in-season pickups are overvalued, hence the price for Cespedes and even worse, the JB2 acquisition.

          While I also like Nimmo’s enthusiasm, speed, and he did hit the longest homerun by a Mets lefty at Citifield this year, he is an unproven commodity. However, while teams need to be able to make room for young blood, fans want guarantees. I say, if he fails so what; bat him eighth. But fans forget that Granderson was lamented for five months and Bruce has a running three year average of 0.1WAR but the Mets needed to hedge against Cespedes’ possible departure, so they gave away two prospects and crossed their fingers.

    • MattyMets
      December 5, 2016 at 11:13 am

      If we weren’t in contention, I would agree with you. However, given that Conforto and Nimmo are unproven, and really so is Lagares to some extent, I don’t think we should trade both Granderson and Bruce. My preference would be to trade Bruce and start the season with Granderson in a platoon with Lagares and also seeing time at the corners. With injuries, splits, DH games, days off, and pinch hitting, there will be enough ABs to split among them all. Even Nimmo will likely see plenty of time as one is likely to get injured.

      If by some chance Nimmo, Conforto and Lagares are all playing well and Granderson and Cespedes are healthy all at the same time (now that is a pretty big if), then I might consider trading Granderson in July. But what are the odds of that happening?

      Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

      • Jimmy P
        December 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        I have to agree with you, Matty, unless Sand in turn brought in a different player (like Pierce, who just signed with the Jays, 2/$12.5 vs. Granderson at 1/$15). If Curtis is best suited as a platoon CF, for example, is that a role that should cost $15 million?

        There are many ways to skin the cat.

        But I like Curtis and I’m not in a huge hurry to ship him out.

        A problem is that TC is not exactly a svengali when it comes to ulitizing his talent in creative ways.

        Nimmo was always going to be a better asset if he could stick in CF than if relegated to the corners. It’s a shame they have decided he can’t cut it out there.

  2. TexasGusCC
    December 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

    There’s a reason Bruce’s WAR is so low, and I don’t think he will reach even that. While I’m a big proponent of opening space for the kids, I wouldn’t trade Granderson first because he offers way more positives than Bruce and the return on either player alone won’t be earth moving so why not keep the better player for yourself?

    Further, Bruce’s defense as a whole isn’t what it used to be and Granderson covers alot of ground in right field. He routinely makes running catches in right center that Bruce would even think about. Too, Granderson charges the ball hard and that deters many base runners, but yes, his arm is a joke. I still think he’s hurt as he used to throw over the top and now throws 3/4, but…

    While I have maintained they should trade both, trading Granderson to keep Bruce would be a move the Braves make because they are stock piling prospects. The Mets are going for a championship, so you keep the better player. It’s so sad they gave away Wotell and Herrera for Bruce.

  3. Barry
    December 3, 2016 at 11:17 am

    For winning more games during the regular season, some of the points you make for keeping Bruce are valid. I mean, for most of last season, it seemed like Granderson was “done”. But when crunch-time came toward the end of the season, Granderson was clutch–once again. He clearly won us important games.

    Would you want Bruce up in a critical spot in the post-season? Not me.

    Granderson has proven he can handle NYC, and has produced clutch hits–not only during the season, but also in the playoffs.

    If we believe the playoffs are a given for the Mets, Granderson could get the big hit in the postseason that gets us a title!

    I really have no confidence that Bruce would even “show up” in the postseason. And that’s not necessarily a knock on Bruce; plenty of great players don’t perform well under the biggest spotlight of their careers.

    When you have the rare player that has proven he can shine on the big stage, you don’t let him go.

  4. Mike
    December 3, 2016 at 11:18 am

    One other factor.. Assuming the CBA stays the same in this regard, after 2017, the Mets would be able to offer Bruce the QO, which he would likely turn down to sign elsewhere. Mets would get a 1st round sandwich pick.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 3, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      It already has been changed. The QO will net them a third round pick, effectively the spot they took Wotell at a few years ago.

      • Name
        December 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

        They seem to want to make this very complicated

        From mlb trade rumors:
        “In terms of compensation, an organization which loses a QO-declining player who signs for $50MM or more will pick up a draft choice “after the first round.” If a QO-declining player inks for under $50MM with another organization, the draft compensation slides to “after competitive balance round B.”

        If i’m reading that right, that means the teams that offers the QO and if it is rejected, they still get a 1st round sandwich pick if the player signs for 50+ mil. If he signs for less than 50 mil, it looks like they get a very late 2nd rounder (Competitive balance B picks at the end of the 2nd round)

  5. John Fox
    December 3, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Good argument that was well written. Before I read this I would have said keep Granderson over Bruce, now I am ever so slightly leaning the other way.

  6. Larry Smith
    December 3, 2016 at 11:38 am

    It’s natural for Mets fans to judge Bruce on the basis of what we’ve seen which is 187 plate appearances and a slash line of .219/.294/.391/ OPS=685. And yes that’s pretty lousy.
    But let’s not forget that Granderson was only the slightest bit better in his initial season with the Amazins and he had the benefit of a spring training with the team. In Granderson’s first 189 plate appearances as a Met his slash numbers were .220/.317/.390 OPS=708. Same terribleness and by season’s end Granderson was only at a 714 OPS.
    So it’s premature IMO to announce that because Bruce started slowly in New York that he is the second coming of Jason Bay. For all we know year 2 for Bruce might be as good as (or better than) Granderson’s second year in Queens.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 3, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Larry, I posted the average of Bruce’s numbers the last three years in a post two or three days ago; they were bad, and the averages include this season. My point is that the Bruce we are dreaming about isn’t the Bruce that has been playing these last three years. So, if we are going by his recent production, understand the average WAR his last three years is 0.1 per year. That is not a misprint: 0.1 WAR per year for the last three is rediculous.

  7. December 3, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    With Mets going for it this year full force, I think you keep the better all around player, Grandy. He is a pro and as good a person in baseball as there is.
    If someone thinks that does not matter, think again. In a clubhouse for nearly 8 mos a year March- October, you need guys like Grandy, Wright, Walker.
    The manager alone cannot handle a clubhouse and all the personalities, etc.
    While most of us Mets fans sometimes grunt and complain about Grandy and his OB % or his low BA,the man usually comes up clutch and is underated in the field. Weak arm ? Yeah, but not many players have all tools. Grandy has slugged like 75 Hrs for the Mets and many have been clutch. Would love to see him enjoy a championship along with this team this year. Never complains, always ready to play and always has a smile. Keep Grandy, bye bye Brucie.

  8. Robert
    December 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Unless you can get something worth trading for such as top-tier reliever I wouldn’t trade them until mid-season when somebody’s willing to give more

  9. royhobbs7
    December 3, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    While the issue of the outfield is at present in flux. It is a good state of flux. We have a number of potential OFers who can fill CF & RF (sans Granderson and/or Bruce). More importantly is the issue of addressing the catching position. Neither Rivera nor D’Arnaud (nor Plawecky) is capable of being a full-time major league catcher at this point.
    So while OF may be a significant position to construct during the offseason, catcher IMHO is the most crucial position to upgrade. Accordingly, are the Mets thinking at all in signing FA C Wellington Castillo? He would be a significant upgrade at the position.

    • Larry Smith
      December 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      I was disappointed to see the Mets re-sign Rivera because it in all likelihood locks in d’Arnaud, Plawecki, and Rivera as the catchers for the team in 2017. It seems unlikely that the club would make a move for Wellington Castillo now that they’ve re-upped Rivera. Word is that the Rays are interested in Castillo.

  10. Chris B
    December 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Good article Larry – it’s always beneficial to analyze both sides of an argument. However I could not feel stronger about keeping Grandy over Bruce.

    Though a small sample size, Bruce showed absolutely no ability to adjust at the plate in NY.

    While not quantitative, Granderson is a stereotypical ‘clubhouse guy’, long tenured and respected. Needed when DW goes down.

    Re: defense. I’ll take range and flexibility over the slight upgrade in arm.

    Re: projections. For a website that prides itself of statistical backup it’s funny how a player projected to provide 250% more value (WAR) is considered “an edge.”

    A 2 million dollar difference should not make or break which player you’re trading.

    And last but not least the value of the return. Imagine two packages in return. I’m thinking a serviceable middle RP and low level prospect for both. For Grandy you would net one more low level prospect.

    So the question becomes – Do the “advantages” of Jay Bruce actually warrant one more low level prospect?

    I understand it’s all speculation and we won’t know what the true offers are but this is not a great year in terms of OF market. Lot of players up for trades.

    To be honest I would be so inclined to say keep both Bruce and Granderson…with the preference of trading Bruce if either at all.

  11. Mike Walczak
    December 3, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    As you can see from my articles that I am always suggesting trades.

    Here is a great trade.

    Jay Bruce to the Reds for Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell.

  12. Larry Smith
    December 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    So let’s take a concrete example and see where we all stand. It has been written by Jon Heyman, among others, that the Orioles are quite interested in Granderson but have little to no interest in Jay Bruce.
    The past three years their top set up reliever has been righthander Brad Brach (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/brachbr01.shtml). If the Orioles say they would swap Brach for Granderson but would not trade him for Bruce I wonder how many of us would like that kind of deal.
    The bullpen is an annual concern for the Mets and all teams but with Familia in all likelihood facing a suspension to start the season isn’t it incumbent on Sandy Alderson to bring in a most dependable bullpen arm so that when Addison Reed assumes the closer role there will be competent help before he gets in there?

    • Larry Smith
      December 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      On Monday afternoon an article at Mets Merized said the Mets are specifically looking at Brad Brach. And just as my reply suggested it may be the case that Granderson gets him but Bruce doesn’t.
      Stay tuned. Plenty of balls floating in the air.

  13. Eraff
    December 3, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    The trade market for these guys will probably provide the best answer…. of the Duda-Bruce-Grandy Trio, I believe Grandy has the least repetitive skill set— he can play Centerfiield. He also may be the most receptive to being a platoon player across all The OF spots

  14. Metsense
    December 3, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    It has been an interesting discussion about the Mets outfield. Alderson has stated he is keeping Conforto and Lagares and trading either Bruce or Granderson. He is not looking to bring in another free agent outfielder like Fowler or Desmond. After much thought, the right choice is to trade Bruce. Lagares should get the starts vs LHP in centerfield. Granderson should be his platoon partner. Watching Granderson make the catch in the playoff game vs Giants knowing full well he was going to slam into the wall is just one example of many that makes Grandy a special player. He can still play center adequately enough. When Lagares does start, either Granderson or Conforto could rest (with Granderson moving to right). I would love to see Cespedes and his arm in right with Conforto in LF (and Granderson moving over when Lagares comes in for defense) but that does not seem to be in the Mets plans.

  15. Mike Walczak
    December 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Ben Revere may be an option. He had a bad yearn in 2016, and was just non tendered. He adds the dimension of speed which the Mets do not have. Could be a lefty righty platoon with Lagares and a great pinch runner. May be worth a cheap one year deal to see if he can prove himself. He is 28 years old and hit over .300 in 2015.

  16. Jerryk
    December 4, 2016 at 12:11 am

    My friend Dudd wants to trade for McCutchon. Conforto and Matz he thinks gets it done.

  17. Eraff
    December 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    Walls…. Dumping Grandy to sign Revere? I don’t think that makes sense!

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      no sense at all.

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