In a somewhat unexpected move, the New York Mets have traded outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash considerations. It is not yet known how much cash the Mets are sending with Granderson. We all knew the Mets were trying to move Granderson; they made that clear by sending him through waivers. It’s just slightly surprising that the Dodgers made this move, since there wasn’t the appearance of a need for additional outfielders or depth. After all they’re the best team in the league record-wise, by a whopping 11 wins, and they’ve already got a bit of a logjam in the outfield.
Money-wise, it makes sense, as there are only a few teams who would be willing to take on the $3.6 million Granderson is owed the rest of the season. That’s the remainder of the four-year, $75 million contract he signed with the Mets. But on Friday, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was activated off the disabled list on Friday, moving Cody Bellinger back into the outfield and seemingly making the addition of another outfielder unnecessary. Despite that, the Dodgers have the right mindset with where the team is at right now: “There is no such thing as too much depth down the stretch.”
Granderson definitely gives the Dodgers added depth and versatility in the outfield, as he’s played all three outfield positions this season. Additionally, he’s been a very durable over his career, having at least 500 plate appearances every season since 2006, with the only exception coming in 2013. That year he had surgery on his hand after breaking the knuckle of the left pinkie-finger when he was hit by a pitch in May. This season he’s played in 111 of the 120 games the Mets have played thus far.
Granderson also gives the Dodgers a solid bat off the bench if he’s not starting, as he has an wRC+ of 113 and a .344 wOBA in 395 plate appearances this season, along with 19 home runs. He’s posted a solid walk rate of 13.4 percent, and a respectable strikeout rate of 22.8 percent. Nor should we forget the veteran presence, or the six postseason appearances in 14 seasons for Granderson, including two trips to the World Series. He’s all but guaranteed a seventh appearance in the postseason with the Dodgers only four wins away from 90 in the middle of August.
Even if the move turns out to amount to nothing, the Dodgers didn’t really have to give up much to land Granderson. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, so they're not tied to anything long term. He’s basically a postseason lottery ticket, much the same as Chase Utley was for them in 2015. Although they were bounced in the first round that year, Utley showed enough to warrant the Dodgers signing him to a one year deal each of the last two seasons.
For that reason I think the biggest winner in this move is Granderson. He not only gets the chance to play for a team that will be in the postseason, but for easily the best team in the regular season since the 2001 Seattle Mariners. And, almost as important, he will have a chance to make his case for a contract offer in 2018 with all eyes on the postseason teams.
(Ironically, depending on when he joins the team, his first game may be against the team that drafted him, the Detroit Tigers, as the Dodgers are in Detroit for a three-game series that wraps up with the finale on Sunday afternoon.)
While the move might not seem like a necessity at this point in the season, the Dodgers have made a smart decision that will likely pay off at some point in the next two months. With over six weeks of baseball until the postseason, the Dodgers are in a good position with plenty of flexibility to rest guys as needed while still get quality at-bats and a somewhat reliable defender.
Acquiring Curtis Granderson was about as cheap of a move as you can make, and will at the very least give the Dodgers a veteran presence and the experience of several deep runs in past postseasons. Although he probably won’t be a postseason series’s MVP, he will give you a reliable performance from almost anywhere in the lineup. That could give the Dodgers the edge they need in a National League playoff game that’s turning into a managerial chess match.
Ron Wolschleger is a pitchaholic and a Contributing Writer for Beyond the Box Score as well as Bless You Boys. You can follow him on Twitter at @FIPmyWHIP.