So it turns out the Mets are willing to go to a guaranteed four years for Curtis Granderson and pay him an annual average value of $13.5 million dollars. However, according to MetsBlog's Matt Cerrone the team would like to backload the deal in some capacity, paying Granderson less money in 2014.
To an extent this is a departure from common logic. Granderson will be 33 years old come opening day, meaning his prime years may already be behind him. There is the potential for his contract to weigh like an anchor in a few years time when confines of Citi Field are no longer kind to the then 36 year old outfielder. So why then would the Mets backload his contract and pay him more in those later years?
The Mets are looking for ways to stretch the money they do have this winter. If they can pay Granderson, lets say $9 million this season, that allows the team to allocate the $4.5 million dollars they would save on the 2014 budget other places. With holes remaining at short stop and the need for another starting pitcher looming, that extra money could come in handy. Such an action may be necessary for the Mets to be able to afford the prices the current free agent market is demanding.
Its also worth noting that the team may believe it will slowly but surely finding better financial footing. Its extremely possible that they believe they can afford to pay $15 million to an aging Granderson in a few years when they have less money (hopefully) dedicated to paying down Citi Field and SNY debts. Again, that's only a guess on my part, but the logic is sound.
Ultimately, the Mets must manage their need to make a splash while keeping their eyes focused on improving the team in its entirety. Granderson provides them that big ticket free agents. Structuring his contract in such a way to save money in 2014 accomplishes the latter. Its risky, but necessary.