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Lake County Sentinel
Indians Trade Target: Could Mets/Indians Matchup in deal for Curtis Granderson
Tribe Trade Targets

It’s been an interesting if slow winter so far for the MLB’s Hot Stove. Aside from the action at the Winter Meetings and a few weeks before the CBA expired and was re-negotiated, it’s left us with few moves and a lot of speculation - particularly in the Indians case. The well documented holes and roles the Indians are looking to fill are in the 1B/DH power department, possibly center or the corner outfields as well as some bullpen, starting pitching depth and maybe a utility infielder.

The Indians haven’t filled any needs on that list as of yet, but the way the market has worked so far, their patient approach has been the smart play. There are plenty of options left to fill that void for the Indians, obviously some much better than the others.

The Indians may be hoping Edwin Encarnacion lands in their lap because the market for his skill set is oversaturated and teams are finally wising up and not paying big money to DH type players with essentially one tool at ages 30 and over.

Even if they don’t land Encarnacion and bring back Mike Napoli, the Indians other need besides bullpen depth options is in the outfield - be it in centerfield or the corners, which has been a reported area of interest.

One of selling points for bringing back Napoli is his power and clubhouse character and leadership. The Indians have always valued is leadership but they’ve found out from the past that it has to be done on the field as well as off it - which is why Napoli was such a hit in Cleveland in 2016. But there may be a target out there that could fill a few needs:

Ability to play the outfield, mostly right field and some centerfield
Postseason experience
Clubhouse leadership and character
On a one year deal (where the Indians prefer to operate with veterans over 30)

This 13-year veteran will play next year at the age of 36, posted an fWAR of 2.6, a 114 wRC+, 30 homers and played 150 games. And as mentioned, has one year left on his contract. He’s also renowned for his on-field and off-field presence on a team.

That player is Curtis Granderson. The New York Mets are looking to trade a corner outfielder now that they have Yoenis Cespedes back and have said while they’d prefer to trade Jay Bruce, Granderson reportedly may be available. Bruce has taken the Indians off his no-trade list, but Bruce should be on the Indians no-trade list.

A 36 year old outfielder is a bit risky because his performance could drop off at any moment and he is scheduled to make $15 million next year. But, Granderson still did hit 30 homers in 150 games, his most homers since 2012 and his least amount of games since 2010.
He also managed +1 DRS in center in 250 innings and a 1.7 UZR/150. For reference, Tyler Naquin was worth -17 DRS in center last year. Granderson also was +2 DRS in right field and a playable -2.7 UZR/150. The Indians could even benefit from keeping Granderson fresh by using him at DH. He also posted a wRC+ of 96 vs. LHP last year, so he’s not unplayable against same-handed pitchers.

Even if the Indians bring Napoli back, Granderson on a one year deal fills a short term need in a lot of areas. The only question is finding a roster spot around Michael Brantley, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte. Naquin and Almonte have minor league options. It’s possible the Indians could try to move Chisenhall or Naquin. Although Chisenhall is a locker room favorite and Naquin is young and cheap, so he represents a ton of value.

The Mets, in return for preferably Bruce, but possibly Granderson, are looking for relief help. It would be a shock to see them do it, but Bryan Shaw has just one year left before hitting free agency and has racked up 282 innings over the last four years. Terry Francona and the Indians really like Shaw and their bullpen is important to them. But with relievers like Shawn Armstrong, Perci Garner and possibly Joe Colon emerging, the Indians have some arms with upside to fill roles with. The Mets wouldn’t and shouldn’t be interested in Zach McAllister as a return for Granderson, but if the Mets would be interested in him as part of a package, the Indians have him or maybe even Armstrong or Garner to offer to them to pry Granderson away.

I am not usually the one to try to theorize hypothetical trades and speculate, but if the Mets are looking to possibly move Granderson and need relief help, the Indians are a decent match for the Mets/Granderson. With Cody Allen and Andrew Miller free agents after 2018, Carlos Santana after 2017 along with Shaw, the next two years are extremely important for the Indians and their formula they’ve put together to win and they might be able to do it without sacrificing their future while filling a need for 2017. Imagine a 2017 lineup of:

STEAMER projections for this Indians lineup

Santana DH/1B 125 wRC+, 25 HR, .831 OPS
Jason Kipnis 2B 104 wRC+, 14 HR, .757 OPS
Francisco Lindor SS 109 wRC+, 14 HR, .779 OPS
Napoli/FA 1B/DH 103 wRC+, 23 HR, .800 OPS
Brantley LF* 114 wRC+, 8 HR, .799 OPS
Jose Ramirez 3B 105 wRC+, 11 HR, .764 OPS
Granderson CF/RF/DH - 106 wRC+, 22 HR, .799 OPS
Chisenhall/Guyer RF - 94 wRC+, 12 HR, .743 OPS/102 wRC+, 10 HR, .745 OPS
Roberto Perez/Yan Gomes C - 81 wRC+, 5 HR, .666 OPS/78 wRC+, 13 HR, .682 OPS

* Steamer projections for Brantley playing 81 games based on games missed in 2016.
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​POSTED 12/15/2016 14:23