Marlins outfielder/pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson will turn 39 next March and is struggling through the worst offensive season of his career, but he tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he hopes to continue his career beyond the 2019 season. The veteran is open to a reunion with the Marlins, should the club have interest in re-signing him.
Granderson acknowledges that it’s not a “slam dunk” for a player of his age to find interest from any of the clubs in the league. This time last year, he was finishing up a season in which he hit .242/.351/.431 with 13 home runs between the Blue Jays and Brewers. Despite that solid production and his highly regarded clubhouse presence, Granderson had to settle for a minor league contract.
Now, Granderson will carry an eyesore of a batting line (.186/.286/.355 at present) into free agency. To his credit, the Grandy Man does have 11 home runs, 17 doubles and a triple under his belt this year. And his 26.9 percent strikeout rate, while higher than the league average, is only a modest increase from last season’s 26.3 percent clip. He’s still walking at an 11.6 percent rate, hasn’t seen his infield-fly rate jump and has slightly improved his hard-contact rate from 34.3 percent to 35 percent, per Statcast. Silver linings aside, it’s hard to hide from struggles of this magnitude. If Granderson lands back with the Marlins or with a new club, it seems likely that it’d be on another minor league pact with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
If there’s one thing working in Granderson’s favor, it could be that the standard Major League roster size is set to expand from 25 players to 26 players, beginning next season. Big league clubs will have an additional roster spot at their disposal, and it’s not out of the question that the Marlins (or perhaps another rebuilding club) would want to take advantage of that by rostering a veteran of 16 Major League seasons to help mentor emerging big leaguers.
To that end, the Marlins’ decision to extend manager Don Mattingly can’t hurt Granderson’s chance of suiting up for a second season in South Beach. Mattingly gushed praise for the veteran outfielder and the influence he’s had on the Marlins’ young players, calling him “one of the keys” to the Marlins’ clubhouse. “He is willing to give these guys advice, help a guy grow up,” Mattingly said.