Dodgers add veteran value in Curtis Granderson, send slumping Joc Pederson to Triple-A
DETROIT – By the time he got to Comerica Park and donned his new, blue gear Saturday, the confusion had cleared up for Curtis Granderson.
“(New York Mets GM) Sandy Alderson and (manager) Terry Collins called me in and said, ‘We’ve dealt you to the Dodgers,’” Granderson said of getting the news following Friday’s game at Citi Field that he had been traded. “I didn’t know to smile or not to smile because I was excited but I was going to be missing some great guys and a great organization with the Mets. So a mixture of emotions in the matter of a split-second.
“I’m going to miss being with the Mets. But I’m excited to be with the Dodgers.”
Granderson was all smiles as he met his new teammates Saturday, having gained 33 games in the standings overnight.
“The big thing I’ve seen on the outside looking in is — this team understands everybody’s strengths in this lineup whether it’s the starting pitcher, the bullpen, the infielders, the outfielders,” Granderson said. “The coaching staff works really well with those guys to put everybody in the best position to succeed. Anybody at any time can beat you.”
As Dodgers manager Dave Roberts put it, the front office has “turned over every stone and tried to address anything that could be a weakness.” It wasn’t hard to spot one – Dodgers center fielders ranked 22nd in the majors in OPS with Joc Pederson regressing offensively in his third full season and mightily since the All-Star break. In 28 games since the break, Pederson batted .156 including just two hits in his last 41 at-bats (.049).
Pederson was demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City Saturday. Granderson has played center field most frequently in his career (and left field the least) but he won’t replace Pederson in center field. Roberts said playing the 36-year-old Granderson in the corners (mostly left field) “makes the most sense” at this point in his career. But that frees Roberts to play Chris Taylor and Kike’ Hernandez in center field, increasing his potential lineup options in the playoffs.
“I just told them ‘Wherever you need me to go.’ I even said shortstop because I played that in high school,” Granderson said with – a smile. “Obviously there’s a lot of pieces on this team that can be moved around at any point. I think that’s a great key to have.”
Pederson gets a chance to “reset” and work on some swing changes that are in progress and will almost certainly return when rosters expand in September.
“There are certainly scenarios where both of these guys can fit on the team and make meaningful contributions,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “Optioning Joc is obviously difficult from a personal and emotional standpoint because we’ve been around him so much and we know there’s a degree of disappointment there. But we also feel he can benefit from getting out of the spotlight and working on some of the swing mechanics that he’s already made some adjustments to.
“Hopefully this is an opportunity to work on that stuff away from the pressures of the daily grind of being in the big leagues. Obviously he’s a huge part of what we want to do this year and in the future.”
A year ago at this time, the Dodgers demoted another young outfielder – Yasiel Puig – after he had regressed (on and off the field, in Puig’s case). He has returned this year to have possibly his best season.
And in Granderson, the Dodgers have bought low — a player to be named later or cash considerations with the Mets offsetting a significant portion of his remaining salary this year — on a former All-Star for the third consecutive August. Two years ago, it was Chase Utley. Last year, it was Carlos Ruiz.
“He’s one of the most well-respected veterans in the game. We think he’ll be additive to the energy and environment we have in our clubhouse,” Zaidi said of Granderson. “On the field, the combination of patience and power is obviously something we value. He’s a quality at-bat. Going back to the 2015 NLDS when we were having our advance meetings before the series, he was a guy we had a lot of difficulty talking through because he is such a challenging guy to try to pitch to, a tough guy to put away quickly – he makes pitchers work.
“So obviously there’s a lot of value to us in having a guy like that both on the field and what he brings to the clubhouse. We thought it made a lot of sense.”
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