The Blue Jays made the smart decision to trade Curtis Granderson before the August deadline on Friday. That doesn’t mean they can’t bring him back in 2019, though.
Friday was a bittersweet day for Blue Jays fans, as we had to watch two fan favourites leave to put on another uniform.
First the news finally broke that Josh Donaldson had been traded, and we eventually learned that it was to join Edwin Encarnacion with the Cleveland Indians. Shortly thereafter, the Blue Jays struck another deal, this time sending Curtis Granderson to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Unlike Donaldson, Granderson was in Toronto for less than a year, but I would argue that he’s nearly as well-liked at this stage of things. Don’t get me wrong, Donaldson will always be remembered in Toronto with great respect, as he should be, but it’s pretty remarkable how positive of a impression Granderson was able to leave on Blue Jays fans in such a short time.
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Personally, I wasn’t sure I liked the signing when it was announced this past winter, and I felt that the Blue Jays were settling for a bit of a bargain when they could have pursued a more premium outfielder in free agency. Granderson turned out to be worth every penny of his one year, five million dollar deal, both with his performance on the field, and with his influence in the clubhouse. He’s long been known as a remarkable teammate, and his off field contributions to the community and to his charities are nearly unmatched.
When I think about the 2019 version of the Blue Jays, I can imagine a scenario where they could use an affordable veteran outfielder, and there’s no better fit than the man they just traded last night. It’s hard to say if he would be interested in a second go around with the Blue Jays, but if he is then I would argue that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro should seriously consider it.
Unlike in the crowded infield picture, the Blue Jays have a lot of question marks with their outfield depth chart going into next year. Will Kevin Pillar remain in Toronto and be a part of the rebuild? If not, does Randal Grichuk make sense as the every day centre fielder? Can Teoscar Hernandez play enough defence to stay in the lineup? How much does Brandon Drury play in the outfield next year? Is Billy McKinney for real?
Those four or five names could very well make up the Blue Jays outfield next season, but something tells me that there will be some movement before spring training. Pillar has two years remaining of arbitration on his contract, and while I think he’s a little undervalued by many critical fans, I understand that it might be time to move on from him up the middle. Hernandez may or may not be able to hang on to a job, and it remains to be seen if McKinney can play well enough to warrant starting duties over the course of a full season.
I’m 100% in favour of a youth movement in Toronto, and there’s no doubt that they’re going to “let the kids play” for the rest of this season and into 2019 and beyond. That said, having a veteran influence around the clubhouse like Granderson can be invaluable, especially with a youthful group like the Blue Jays will be utilizing. His work ethic is a great example, and his citizenship and professionalism may be even more important. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a better role model in the game right now, and who better to teach the Vladimir Guerrero Jr‘s, Danny Jansen‘s, Lourdes Gurriel‘s, and Bo Bichette‘s of the system.
It wouldn’t cost a lot and the Blue Jays should have plenty of payroll space next season anyway, so it may boil down to whether or not Granderson wants to play again next year, and if he’d be willing to come back to Toronto. He could be in for a repeat of this year where he platoons and then ends up on the trade block to a contender, but the time that he is in Toronto would be worth whatever salary they settle on.
Making a logical fit for him next year likely requires moving on from someone like Pillar, but if that does go down then there is plenty of reason to like the idea of a return for Granderson to Toronto. It was a great fit in 2018 and there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t be the same next year. We wish you well good sir, and hope to see you again real soon.