Granderson talks free agency at charity event
Being comfortable, caring for family and finding winning team important to slugger
CHICAGO -- Listening to Curtis Granderson eloquently speak about his free agency should at least give some hope to Cubs and White Sox fans alike.
Granderson, in conjunction with his Grand Kids Foundation, hosted the inaugural Grand-Giving Fundraiser to benefit The Greater Chicago Food Depository at John Barleycorn River North in downtown Chicago Wednesday night. Before the festivities that welcomed more than 1,000 people into the establishment began, the left-handed-hitting outfielder addressed what was important to him in this current search process.
The 32-year-old native of Lynwood, Ill., a south suburb of Chicago, listed taking care of his family and feeling comfortable in his home away from home as two important factors in picking a new team. Granderson also talked about wanting to win a World Series championship, pointing out that he hasn't been back to the Fall Classic since 2006 with Detroit.
When he was asked how his two hometown teams stay in consideration despite not looking like prime playoff contenders at this time, Granderson spoke in great detail of how organizations can change from year to year in the modern times of Major League Baseball.
"Those days from probably 10 to 15 years ago of teams that were consistently bad year in and year out have kind of gone away," said the upbeat Granderson. "Case in point, the Detroit Tigers when I played for them. Throughout the Minor Leagues, the organization up top was not necessarily the best. Then we make the World Series in 2006, they get back there two seasons ago and have done a lot of amazing things.
"Boston Red Sox go from worst [in 2012] to first [in 2013]. The Kansas City Royals, the Cleveland Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates: getting their first winning season and getting to the postseason. Everything is a possibility and has the ability to turn around quite quickly, as long as organizations continue to do things in their Minor League system and go ahead and get a piece here and there with free agency and trades. Every team is an option."
Adding Granderson would be a boon for any team, when factoring in the 84 homers he launched combined during the 2011 and '12 seasons, not to mention the fact that he feels healthy and ready to play any spot in the outfield. His desire to give back to the community and his high character and outgoing nature make him a clubhouse-plus for rebuilding teams such as the Cubs or the White Sox.
But the fact that these teams are rebuilding, coupled with Granderson being offered a qualifying offer by the Yankees and then turning it down, might eventually eliminate the chance of making his first home also his second baseball home. The White Sox have placed the First-Year Player Draft as one of their top line items on the '14 budget and don't currently seem inclined to lose a second-round pick for three or even four years of Granderson. The same apparently holds true for the Cubs.
Many players choose to separate work and home, but Granderson is keeping all of his options open. And he points to Derrick Rose's rise from Simeon High School in Chicago to the NBA Most Valuable Player with the Chicago Bulls as an example that this combination works.
"He's won a high school championship here and then comes back and ends up being the MVP and bringing the Bulls to the playoffs," said Granderson of Rose, with Granderson also having played his collegiate baseball at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "I admire him being able to separate business and friends and family and be able to go out there and produce.
"I'm sure his friends and family realize it's a job. Sometimes it's difficult to do those different things when it is at your home base. It's been a learning curve to come from my first year in 2004 to where I stand in front of you now in 2013. It's something to consider again."
There's no timetable for Granderson, aside from finding the right fit. If that happens in the next week or so, he won't delay the decision. He also won't rush the process.
Wednesday's energy was primarily focused on Granderson's charity event, also attended by athletes such as Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and former Bears offensive lineman James "Big Cat" Williams. His Grand Kids Foundation will launch a series of Chicago-based community programs, beginning with this benefit.
"I think about how I got to where I am today. Outside of my mom and dad, who are very instrumental in my life, I think about the number of other people who have helped me out along the way and shaped me as an individual," said Granderson, who listed his baseball coaches at Thornton Fractional South High School as just two of those influences. "Not even as a player. The fact that they got me to work hard, learn how to fail, learn how to set goals, achieve them.
"Now I'm in a situation where I can finally give back in numerous different ways. Education has always been very important to me. That's the reason why Grand Kids was established. Baseball has given me an opportunity to do some amazing things."