2017 Stats: .212/.323/.452, .285 TAv, 26 home runs
How He Fits: You might be thinking to yourself, “The Cubs are already loaded in the outfield, why do they need Curtis Granderson?” Well that is certainly true, but there will be a veteran outfield spot on this team that might be need to be filled if Jon Jay goes elsewhere. While Schwarber, Almora, Heyward, Zobrist, Bryant and Happ can all play outfield, there is still the possibility that one or more of that group is traded. This is where a veteran like Curtis Granderson would come in.
After a ROUGH start with the Mets in 2017, he really came on strong. He only hit .128/.174/.221 with a 5.4 percent walk rate in April, but from May 1st on he hit .231/.354/.507 with a much-improved 15.2 percent walk rate. He struggled a bit after an August trade to the Dodgers, but late season trades are often tough for veterans who have spent multiple years in one spot. In addition to the successful results he had at the plate this year, Granderson is an extremely patient hitter. His 4.51 pitches per plate appearance were the highest in the National League. The Cubs in the playoffs had some issues grinding out at bats, and while Granderson might not be in the lineup on a regular basis, a guy who can give you that kind of plate appearance off the bench can really help a team out. In addition to the bat, while Granderson isn’t exactly a great defender anymore, he still has the ability to be passable in all three outfield spots.
In addition to still being a useful player, the fit works off the field as well. Granderson is a Chicago native who attended UIC (Where the baseball field is named after him). He is widely regarded as one of the best clubhouse guys in baseball, and is generally just a great guy. While the Cubs don’t exactly need a great clubhouse guy to fix things, Granderson is the kind of guy who can fit into any situation.
Why It Won’t Work: The main reason this wouldn’t work is simply a glut of outfielders. Like I mentioned before, the Cubs have at least six guys on the current roster who can play the outfield, and if none of them are traded they might not be in the market for another. Albert Almora might not get a full-time role on this team in 2018, but he is definitely looking at an enhanced role following a successful first full season in the big leagues. In addition to Almora, the Cubs also have Ian Happ who can play center field. It’s completely reasonable to expect the Cubs to simply turn over center field duties to the two of them heading into 2018, assuming neither are traded.
The other potential issue here is Granderson’s expected role on a 2018 Cubs team. While he will be entering his age 37 season, he proved in 2017 that he still has quite a bit left in the tank. Because of this, he might be seeking one last starting gig before calling it a career. He could definitely get that with a rebuilding team, but the Cubs will really only be able to offer him limited playing time. I’m not sure I see much more than 150-250 plate appearances if he joins the Cubs.
Alternatives: The other main alternative here would be Jon Jay. Like Granderson, however, Jay might be looking for a starting gig elsewhere. Jay definitely enjoyed his time on the north side in 2017, but at age 33 this might be his last opportunity to get paid like a starter. I’m not sure I see the Cubs looking for an outfielder outside of these two, but other potential options could include Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson or Cameron Maybin.
Lead photo courtesy Thomas Shea—USA Today Sports