The New York Mets have intensified talks with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN. The team is hoping to sign the former Yankee to a three-year deal, but could give him a fourth year.
The Mets are desperate for a power presence in their lineup. Their top home run hitter in 2013 was Marlon Byrd, who was traded to the Pirates mid-season. David Wright was the only other player on the team to top 15 home runs as the Mets finished with 130 home runs overall, the fifth-worst mark in the majors.
Despite Byrd's presence for half the year, the New York outfield was particularly ineffective. Mets outfielders combined to hit .235/.304/.381 last season, good for a 685 OPS. That mark was better than only the Astros and Twins last year and is one of the ten-worst outfield seasons in the last five years.
Granderson, 32, would certainly be able to inject some offense into New York's lineup. He hit just .229 with a 723 OPS in 2013, but played in only 60 games due to a broken forearm suffered in spring training and a broken pinkie later in the year. In 2011 and 2012, Granderson was one of the premiere power outfielders in the game, topping 40 home runs each year and posting an 863 OPS between the two seasons. His 2011 campaign was particularly impressive as he hit .262/.364/.552 with 41 long balls and 25 stolen bases. That was a good enough year to get him fourth place in AL MVP voting.
More from our team sites
More from our team sites
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with Granderson for what was described as an introductory meeting on Sunday. Those talks must have gone well as the Mets now seem focused on locking up the outfielder.
In four years with the Mets, Alderson has either been unwilling or has not had the opportunity to sign a player to a large deal. The biggest contract he has dished out in his tenure as GM was to ex-closer Frank Francisco, who received $12 million over two years. Granderson would easily command a much bigger deal. However, he could likely be had for under $100 million, a number the Mets have refused to go to for any free agents this offseason. New York is hoping they don't have to add a fourth year to a deal, but are willing to go there if necessary.
The Mets outfield currently consists of Eric Young, Jr., Juan Lagares and the recently-signed Chris Young. Granderson, a good defender, has primarily been a center fielder over his career. He could move to a corner spot if he joins the Mets, however. The team has at least inquired about several outfielders this offseason from Corey Hart to Carlos Beltran to Shin-Soo Choo.
Granderson turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees earlier in the offseason, meaning any other team that signs him would be required to forfeit a draft pick. By virtue of falling within the top-10 picks of the 2014 draft, the Mets are protected from losing their first rounder. Were they to sign Granderson, they would be required to give up their second-round selection.