Blue Jays: If you don’t like Granderson, you’re not watching

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Curtis Granderson
DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Curtis Granderson /

In his spring debut, Curtis Granderson showed Blue Jays fans that he’s got something left in the tank, and that he’s just a straight up good dude.

The Blue Jays made several additions to their roster this offseason, and the majority of them came through the trade route. There were a few exceptions, and Curtis Granderson‘s one year deal for five million was the most expensive until they signed Jaime Garcia last week for eight million.

Going into the winter with a pretty big need in the outfield, Ross Atkins and company got creative with their solutions, pairing Granderson with Steve Pearce to form what should be a pretty decent platoon, and traded for Randal Grichuk as well. Some fans felt a little underwhelmed with those two additions, but there’s a lot to like about both players, especially in terms of their fit in Toronto.

In the case of the soon to be 37 year old Granderson, there were several reasons to bring him into the fold. His contract is more than reasonable for someone with his pedigree, and the fact that they only had to commit to one year makes it an even more worthwhile gamble. Despite struggling with the Dodgers down the stretch after being traded, he still hit 26 home runs in 449 at bats. He also brings an athletic and defensive upgrade in the left field corner, at least over Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera anyway.

More from Jays Journal

For all those reasons his fit makes a ton of sense, but it might be what he brings to the clubhouse that’s the most valuable for John Gibbons‘ ball club. This isn’t a team that’s lacking for veteran leadership, not with the likes of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and more. However, having Granderson enhances that veteran influence on the younger players, and the entire clubhouse in general.

If you happened to tune in to Friday’s Cactus League opener, you not only got to witness the 3x All-Star hit his first home run in his first at bat, but you also got to hear him chat with Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler after he’d been removed from the game. I’d heard him speak in a few capacities in the past, but as soon as he opened his mouth I remembered what I thought the last time I heard him interviewed a few years ago: Good grief, this is an incredibly nice man.

That sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s hard to put a value on intangibles like that in a clubhouse, especially over the course of a 162 game season. These players have to spend a great deal of time together, and the more mutual respect that flies around between the players the more it translates on the field. You don’t HAVE to like each other in order to win, but it definitely helps.

When it comes to respect around the game, Granderson is near the top of the list throughout baseball. He’s currently serving as an Association Player Representative for the MLBPA, which is the highest elected position in the player’s union, with former Blue Jay Carlos Villanueva as the other. He also won the Roberto Clemente award in 2015 for what he does off the field and through various charities.

His own endeavour, the Grand Kids Foundation, raises funds for youth athletic programs, something that he’s admittedly very passionate about. In fact, according to this article from Michael Powell of the New York Times from 2016, he’s contributed at least five million of his own money to the program, and that’s not taking into account the countless hours he spends of his own time. I’m willing to bet that’s also a conservative estimate.

Whether Granderson can continue to stave off Father time for another year remains to be seen, but based on the way he looked on Friday it’s not hard to picture him performing well, especially in a platoon situation. However, it may be not matter to the Blue Jays either way in terms of getting value back for signing the Illinois native. His kind personality and veteran influence were on display right from the first spring game, and something tells me that’s going to prove very valuable in 2018.

If you had hoped the Blue Jays would sign someone like J.D. Martinez or Lorenzo Cain this offseason instead, I completely understand. But if you don’t like Curtis Granderson, well then you’re just not paying attention.

Next: Was 2017 an outlier for Kendrys Morales?