Granderson Is Standing in Cespedes’ Way

Right now, there are two people who are realistically standing in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets. No, it’s not Fred and Jeff Wilpon. It’s Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson

Like it or not, Sandy Alderson was right when he said Cespedes isn’t a centerfielder. While Cespedes grades out as an elite leftfielder, he’s just not good in center. Last year, he had a -3.2 UZR and -4 DRS while playing center. For his career, his UZR in center is -12.6, and his DRS there is -17. While the Mets were willing to move him in and out of center to take advantage of platoon splits for Juan Lagares while not forcing Conforto to face lefties. While it was rough at times, it did seem to work. 

However, that was over the course of three months. Cespedes’ defensive numbers in center are unsustainable over a full season. I don’t buy the argument he only needs to play there two years. He’s already established he shouldn’t be playing there now. No, if the Mets want to re-sign him, he needs to go either left or right. That begs the question, why haven’t the Mets made room for him?

Specifically, I’m asking why the Mets haven’t explored trading Granderson.  Last year, Granderson hit .259/.364/.457 with 26 homers and 70 RBI from the leadoff spot. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove in rightfield. On a team where everyone was dropping like flies, he played 157 games, and really, he was the only credible major league bat in the lineup for far too long stretches of time. His 5.1 WAR ranked him as a top five rightfielder in all of baseball last year. He has a reasonable two years $31 million remaining on his contract. One way of looking at this is saying he’s too valuable to be traded. 

Another is to say he’s at his peak value, which is the precise time you want to trade players. Granderson is a year removed from a .237/.326/.338 campaign. The year before that he hit .229/.317/.407.  He had pronounced splits last year hitting .183/.273/.286 against lefties and .280/.388/.504 against righties. His 5.1 WAR last year was the highest it had been since 2011. He’s going to be 35 on Opening Day next year. 

Right now, the Mets still project to have Eric Campbell make the Opening Day roster until they sign another 1B/OF. The Mets still talk about adding another reliever. Their farm system took a big hit last year. Couldn’t trading Granderson address one, two, or all three of these needs?  Isn’t that what smart front offices do?  Don’t they trade away a player a year too early rather than a year too late? 

Also keep in mind,this is a heavy left-hand hitting team. Trading Granderson and re-signing Cespedes would balance that out a bit. Isn’t this something worth exploring?

Personally, I’d like to see the Mets keep Granderson. I’m a big fan of his on and off the field. With that said, trading Granderson now may be the right thing to do. His value won’t be any higher, and the Mets have some needs to address. The Mets do not want to be paying for Granderson during his possible decline.

It might be time to trade Granderson. 

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

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