I am back in the saddle again! I’M BAAAACKKK!
Please excuse the Aerosmith reference but I am finally back to the blog. In case you all did not know my wife and I are expecting our 3rd child in January so things have been quite crazy leaving my blogging and the Cubs low on the priority list. But having said that I am back.
There has been a lot of speculation on the player or type of player the Cubs should and will go after this offseason. There has been a lot of talk about financials from both CubsDenand BleacherNation which will also impact the type of player the Cubs go after this offseason. But having said all that I believe the Cubs main target will fit into what they are doing for the now, future, and will not impact money going forward. That main target is Curtis Granderson.
The Chicago Cubs main target this offseason should not be bullpen like everyone is clamoring for; it needs to be a centerfielder. The Cubs current roster has guys like Ryan Sweeney, Brian Bogusevic, and to a lesser extent Junior Lake as guys who can man CF next year. The Cubs are not going to carry both Brian Bogusevic and Ryan Sweeney because both play equal defense in CF and both bat left-handed. But the issue is neither one is really a starter in the ML which brings in Junior Lake. Now Junior Lake bat can certainly carrying in CF but his defense remains suspect which we all know could improve but as an everyday guy in CF it does not make much sense. In the minors the Cubs have Matt Sczcur, Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha, and John Andreoli that could fit the bill but most are not ready and do not provide much of an upgrade over Sweeney or Bogusevic. So without an everyday ML centerfielder on the roster or in the minors the Cubs need to fill the void until Albert Almora is ready. So the Cubs have to look at free agency.
Looking into free agency you can pretty much cross off Shin-Soo Choo (mostly corner spot) and Jacoby Ellsbury because of the money issues right now with the Cubs. Not to mention each probably want a deal around 4-5 years; where the Cubs could be looking at a 3 year deal with 4 at the max. You can also cross off guys who primarily fill the corner spots in the outfield so no Corey Hart, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, or Mike Morse. Also cross guys off like Rajai Davis, Rick Ankiel, Franklin Gutierrez, Tony Gwynn Jr., Nyjer Morgan, and David DeJesus because all are not that big of an upgrade over Bogu or Sweeney. Two names besides Curtis Granderson that I feel the Cubs will look at and consider as fall back options are Chris Young and CoCo Crisp but neither one offer a complete package that Granderson does. Chris Young misses consistency and OBP while Crisp misses the mark on power.
So why does Curtis Granderson deserve the Cubs top target this offseason? What makes him more special that the players above? Here is why-
Contract: Curtis Granderson is no longer a $15M a year outfielder in the league and you can thank the downward trend of the market combined with recent injury history which plays in the Cubs hands very well. Granderson’s market will be very interesting giving the recent signing struggles of free agent CF Michael Bourn plus a crowded free agent OF next year which benefits the Cubs as well. The cost of Granderson will be closer to what he is worth because of these things and Theo has told the media countless times making an investment large or small has to make sense for the now and future. Which Granderson does. Curtis Granderson is not going to get over a 4 year deal on the open market which plays into the Cubs hands of wanting a “transition guy” to eventually give way to Albert Almora. I can see Granderson getting a 3-4 year deal worth from $8M-$12M which plays into the Cubs hands perfectly. Lets not forget the Cubs were in talks last year for guys like Michael Bourn, BJ Upton, Justin Upton, and even Shane Victorino before those players signed deals out of the front offices comfort zone. You would have to assume the Cubs will be looking to fill the void again this off-season especially without the fall back option currently on the roster. Granderson fits the Cubs contract demands for sure.
Position: The Cubs need an everyday CF until Almora or others are ready which makes Granderson a slam dunk. Not much to say here.
Hitting: Curtis Granderson is a bat the Cubs desperately need and at a premium defensive position on the field which makes his bat even better. With a career OBP of .342 and .832 OPS; his bat will make a huge impact on the Cubs current roster. Granderson from 2007-2012 has hit at least 22 homeruns and even topped 40 homers in 2011 and 2012. Although there is no place in the lineup where he is dramatically better than the next it seems the bulk of his career has been batting 1st (.345 OBP) and 2nd(.359 OBP). As a lefty he does fair much better against right handed pitching which could allow Junior Lake to see more time in the outfield against lefties. His stats at are Wrigley are crazy good (even with a small sample size). In just 25 Abs Wrigley he has a .320 avg with a .379 OBP and a 1.099 OPS. He has 1 double, 3 triples, 1 homer, 4 RBI, and 3 BB at Wrigley in his career. I could see Granderson batting in any spot in this lineup but maybe best utilized batting 1st or 2nd.
Defense: While he is not a spry chicken anymore he is only 32 years old but still can play solid CF defense. In fact his .994 fielding percentage is better than the Cubs previous CF David DeJesus who sports a .991 fielding percentage in CF. Let’s face it DeJesus did really well in CF and Granderson would be an upgrade over that even. There is no question he can play CF for the next 3 years at a high level.
Tradable Asset: With the contract Granderson is expect to get and the Cubs interest you have to think about the sign and trade aspect we have seen them utilize in the past. Although with Granderson the only way he gets dealt is if Almora is ready since there is no replacement right now.
This is why Curtis Granderson should be the main free agent target for the Cubs. I also believe he will be one of the; if not the, main target for the Cubs front office for all the reasons I laid out above.
Until Next Time….