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Why re-signing super mentor Curtis Granderson makes sense

If the Blue Jays are going to have so many youngsters on their roster, who better than Curtis Granderson to have around as a positive influence.

Thinking back to a little less than a year ago, I thought the Blue Jays were being a little cheap by signing Curtis Granderson to supplement their outfield, even if I believed he could help a bit. I had no idea the positive influence and impact he would leave on the Blue Jays in not even a full season in Toronto.

There might not be a better person in all of baseball than Granderson, who plays the game the right way, treats his teammates and coaches with the utmost respect and professionalism, and spends a lot of his free time devoted to charity work. He’s as respected as anyone in the game, and there’s a good reason for it.

I knew a bit about this when the Blue Jays signed him a year ago, but having the chance to directly follow his career in 2018 taught me how positive of an influence he could be on a new team, and even on the fans. For example, I’ve never been a Brewers fan, but I found myself cheering for Granderson’s new team in the playoffs mostly because of his presence.

As of this writing Granderson is a free agent, and there’s a good chance that he’ll be waiting until the new year to find his next team. He is now 37 and getting closer to the end of his career, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll hang up the spikes after a relatively successful 2018 season, and one that he still proved he’s worthy enough for the Brewers to trade for. He ended up slashing .242/.351/.431 with 13 home runs, 22 doubles, and 38 RBI in 343 at bats, good for 0.9 bWAR between time in Toronto and Milwaukee.

Just as he was last season, Granderson is probably best suited as a platoon option in left field.. That doesn’t make him an ideal fit in Toronto the way the roster is currently constructed, but there have been rumours that the front office might move Kevin Pillar this winter. If that happens, having someone around like Granderson could make a little more sense.

The rest of the outfield picture is made up of some combination of Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, and Pillar as long as he isn’t dealt. If they did move on from the longest tenured Blue Jay, that would likely mean Grichuk would slide to centre field, and Hernandez and McKinney could flank him on the corners. With all due respect to that trio, that’s not exactly the most concrete of plans.

To Hernandez’s credit, he’s been working hard in Winter Ball, and hopefully he’ll be able to improve on the wretched defence he displayed last season. His bat should play in the big leagues, especially as he gains more experience, but he’ll need to add more to his defensive contributions to stick. As for McKinney, he looked great in a short audition after the Blue Jays acquired him from the Yankees, but it’s hard to say if he’s going to be able to handle full-time duties in the outfield either.

The idea behind offering Granderson another contract would be more motivated by what he could teach the young Blue Jays who should be on the roster next season. Kendrys Morales seems to be tasked as a mentor for many of them as well, but you can’t tell me that guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki, and the many more young players that will be around in 2019 wouldn’t benefit from his leadership. On the cusp of their young MLB careers, there’s no better role model to learn from as far as I can tell.

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It’s entirely possible that Granderson would decline in search of his elusive first World Series ring, and I could hardly blame him for that. If he does find himself looking for a job late in the offseason though, I hope Ross Atkins and company are keeping tabs on him and are opened minded to a reunion.

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