The Orioles need an outfielder. The Mets have extra outfielders. The Mets want bullpen help. The Orioles have a great bullpen. Could something mutually beneficial come from these compatible ideas? Maybe. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the O’s and Mets have been talking.
Last week, we heard that the Orioles had some interest in Curtis Granderson of the Mets. Rosenthal repeats that today, noting that the O’s prefer Granderson to another Mets outfielder, Jay Bruce. One other name Rosenthal adds to the discussion is Orioles reliever Brad Brach, whom Rosenthal says the Mets like.
I often dismiss baseball rumors by saying, “Probably nothing will happen,” because a lot of them don’t make sense. However, this one can’t be dismissed so easily because it does make sense. Granderson is only under contract for 2017, but Brach is 30 and will be a free agent after just two more seasons.
That doesn’t mean it’s automatic there will be a trade. Granderson carries a price tag of $15 million for the 2017 season, his final year of a four year contract. That’s a lot for the O’s to absorb when they need a catcher, too. And Brach, a 2016 All-Star, could be a real bargain for some team, as he’s only estimated to make a $2.9 million salary next season.
Would the Orioles insist on money being included in the deal? If so, would the Mets then demand a prospect from the Orioles? The idea of this trade becomes less palatable if the O’s are depleting their prospect stock in order to make it happen.
Another reporter, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, addresses that exact concern:
This is a frustrating thing to read because $15 million is simply not too much for Granderson. He was worth either 2.5 or 2.6 WAR in the most recent season, depending on which you like, and both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs agree Granderson was a 5.1 WAR player in 2015. They’ll have to pay most of that much money to players with less of Granderson’s career and recent track record to sign another outfielder.
Locally, MASN’s Roch Kubatko echoes that the Orioles “don’t like the $15 million that (Granderson) is owed.” I guess they should have thought twice before they committed $11 million for this season to Yovani Gallardo when they knew Gallardo was damaged goods. Some way or another they will have to pay for an outfielder - and if they don’t, well, the 2017 Orioles will be paying for that in a different way.
It seems like no trade is imminent, but the fact that the two teams may match up makes it interesting to think about.
If the Orioles were able to get Granderson for Brach, they’d be filling one of their prime needs without giving up any of their future. Orioles fans saw what’s probably the best of Brach in the first half of last season. Can he keep that up again over another season? A 0.91 first half ERA gave way to a 3.91 second half ERA. He could well be a prime candidate for selling high on him after his recent season performance.
The Orioles may feel like a healthy Darren O’Day plus Mychal Givens offers them sufficient depth to do such a deal. They might be right, although counting on O’Day’s health after his 2016 may not be the best decision. However, the Orioles, for all of their faults, have proven adept at developing back end of the bullpen arms in recent seasons.
Granderson would not be without risks. He’ll be 36 next Opening Day. The good news about that is that Granderson has played 150+ games each of the past three seasons, so he hasn’t given signs of already heading into some kind of injury-filled decline.
Over his three most recent seasons, all with the Mets, Granderson has batted a combined .241/.342/.436. Not a great batting average, but it is a guy who shows he can take a walk, so there’s value there. That .342 OBP would have been second among full-time Orioles, trailing Manny Machado by only .001.
Granderson also just crushed 30 home runs and would be a lefty slugger heading to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
But since the Orioles don’t like Granderson’s reasonable $15 million price tag for next year, it seems like that’s that for now.