The Marlins have signed veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league spring training, per a club announcement Tuesday:
The Miami Marlins today signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) February 5, 2019
Come welcome him to the 305 at FanFest on February 9th! pic.twitter.com/P9VqkJkNLV
Granderson, 37, is a veteran of 15 major-league seasons and has been a beloved presence pretty much wherever he’s gone (he’s been dealt to a contender in each of the past two seasons and has played in the playoffs for each of the last four years, so take that for what it’s worth). With that in mind, it’s easy to see why a young team like the Marlins would want him around as a veteran mentor, even if it’s just for spring training. But if they’re making an honest effort to put the best possible team on the field — which really is up for debate considering they just DFA’d and traded Nick Wittgren, arguably their best reliever in 2018, and have guys like Peter O’Brien, Martin Prado, and Austin Dean in their projected lineup with J.T. Realmuto likely to be traded before Opening Day — it seems like Granderson should have an easy path to their Opening Day roster. Beyond Brian Anderson (arguably their best hitter) in right field, Lewis Brinson (.577 OPS in 2018) in center, and Dean (.642 OPS) in left, Miami’s backup outfield options include speed-and-defense specialist Magneuris Sierra (.433 OPS), natural first baseman Garrett Cooper, and natural second baseman Neil Walker.
At such an advanced age by baseball standards, Granderson is in a tough position as he tries to stick around in a league that seems to value players that are young and cheap above all else. Really, though, he’s pretty much the quintessential 2019 player in terms of his on-field play: He’s a high on-base guy who hits for power and possesses above-average versatility. He has a .340 career OBP while averaging 28 homers per 162 games, and he posted a .242/.351/.431 slash line with 13 homers over 403 plate appearances between the Blue Jays and Brewers in 2018. While he’s not the fielder he once was (what 37-year-old is?), he’s still serviceable as a fill-in at all three outfield spots. He saw action at all three positions in 2018 (323.2 innings in right, 275 in left, nine in center), posting -3 defensive runs saved in right, -2 in left, and an even rating in center — obviously not spectacular, but not bad enough that he’s hurting his team in the field.