Crosstown jump: Granderson leaving Bronx for Queens
Curtis Granderson is heading across town, where the New York Mets hope his home run swing won’t suffer at Citi Field.
The free-agent outfielder agreed to a $60 million, four-year contract with the Mets, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the deal was pending a physical and no announcement had been made.
Granderson, who turns 33 in March, comes over from the crosstown Yankees and gives the Mets much-needed power in their punchless outfield. He batted .229 with seven homers and 15 RBI this year, when wrist and hand injuries limited him to 61 games. But he surpassed 40 homers in each of his previous two seasons in pinstripes.
The move marks general manager Sandy Alderson’s most expensive free-agent signing — by far — after three years of bargain shopping as the Mets rebuilt.
A three-time All-Star, Granderson provides proven thump from the left side of the plate to complement right-handed hitter David Wright in a lineup that managed only 130 home runs last season — tied for 25th among 30 major league teams.
New York also signed free-agent outfielder Chris Young to a $7.25 million, one-year contract this offseason. Granderson has played center field most of his career but spent time in both left and right last season. He figures to fill a corner spot with the Mets, who plan to use defensive whiz Juan Lagares or Young in center.
New York’s outfield combined to hit .238 this year (29th in the majors) with 50 homers (tied for 24th) and 209 RBIs (16th), according to STATS. The group also includes speedy left fielder Eric Young Jr., the NL stolen base leader.
Granderson turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees to test the open market. The Mets, however, would not have to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign him because they own the 10th overall selection. The top 10 picks are protected.
Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011, when he led the American League in runs (136) and RBI (119) and finished fourth in MVP voting. He had 43 homers and 106 RBI in 2012, taking advantage of the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.
The Mets hope his power will translate to spacious Citi Field, where it’s more difficult to clear the fences.
Granderson’s numbers have declined the past two years, down to a .317 on-base percentage and .407 slugging mark last season. He also is prone to strikeouts — whiffing 364 times from 2011-2012 — and joins a Mets lineup that fanned 1,384 times this year, tied with Atlanta for most in the NL.
But his bat is a significant upgrade for the Mets, starved for offense following their fifth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field. Now, the club can focus on other areas of need — shortstop, first base, the pitching staff — heading into baseball’s winter meetings next week.
Granderson was on the disabled list twice last season after getting hit by pitches.
He missed the first 38 games after breaking his right wrist when he was plunked by Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ in his first spring training plate appearance on Feb. 24. Not long after he returned, Granderson broke a knuckle on his left pinkie when he was hit at Tampa Bay on May 24.
That kept him out until August, making Granderson one of several Yankees stars to be sidelined much of the season. New York was unable to overcome all the injuries, missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years.
Granderson’s agreement with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.