Mailbag: Grandy, Polanco, Soria, Madson, Martin

Report: Yankees have interest in re-signing Ichiro and Ibanez
What Went Right: Ichiro!

Six questions but only four answers this week, the first official mailbag of the 2012-2013 offseason. Remember to please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar for all ‘bag related correspondence.

(Elsa/Getty)

Anonymous asks: Should they decide to trade him, realistically what could the Yankees get for Curtis Granderson?

The Yankees officially exercised Granderson’s no-brainer $15M option earlier this week, and he’s due to become a free agent after next season. He’s hit .247/.337/.506 over the last three seasons and that seems like a decent approximation of his expected 2013 production. Maybe less if you really don’t like him and think strikeouts are the root of all evil. Granderson is a center fielder but not a good one, though he is definitely an above average player signed for one year.

Guys like that don’t get traded all that often, but we do have a decent sample over the last few years, most notably Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Willingham, and Dan Uggla. Granderson is somewhere between Willingham (traded for two prospects, one being an MLB-ready reliever) and Gonzalez (three prospects, two being top 100 guys), which at least gives us a reference point rather than just guessing. He won’t fetch a Carlos Gonzalez type (like Holliday), but I think the Yankees could realistically demand two good prospects for Granderson in a trade. Two guys in a club’s top ten prospects list, for example. Preferably at least one of them would be an MLB-ready outfielder, of course.

Matt asks: What would you think about adding Placido Polanco as a back up utility guy to play the role that Chavez had?

Travis asks: Lets say the Tigers non-tender Ryan Raburn. Is he enough of a utility player for the Yankees? If he is, would he be an upgrade over Jayson Nix?

Might as well lump these two together. Polanco, 37, makes some sense as a backup corner infielder/emergency second baseman depending on his back. He’s missed a bunch of time these last few years with everything from inflammation to soreness to bulging discs. The Yankees would have to look him over really well during the physical. Polanco isn’t anything special on defense, has no power (.075 ISO last three years), no speed (only eight steals), and doesn’t walk (6.3 BB%), but he’s a contact machine who rarely strikes out (.281 AVG last three years with an 8.0 K%). The Yankees can use some of that, it just depends on whether they’re comfortable with his medicals and having a right-handed hitting corner infielder.

As for the 31-year-old Raburn, it would have to be a minor league contract only. I really liked him a few years ago, but he just hasn’t hit at all lately. He broke out with a .285/.348/.498 showing from 2009-2010 (.286/.373/.580 vs. LHP), but these last two years he’s hit just .226/.272/.370 overall (.232/.283/.397 vs. LHP) and been demoted to the minors. Raburn is far more versatile than Polanco, with lots of experience at second and in the outfield corners plus some time at third base as well, but he can’t hit. That 2009-2010 stuff is tantalizing, but I don’t think he’s better than Nix and I wouldn’t give him anything more than a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

(Norm Hall/Getty)

GB asks: I see that the options for Joakim Soria and Matt Lindstrom were declined. They seem like good targets to me. Your thoughts?

Lonnie asks: Do you see the Yanks making a play for Soria or Ryan Madson at low-cost deals to possibly close in 2014?

Gonna lump these two together as well, and yes, all three make perfect sense on short-term contracts. Obviously Soria and Madson are elite relievers coming off Tommy John surgery while Lindstrom is healthy and more of a middle reliever/setup man, but the Yankees need some bullpen help and all three offer it.

There isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t take Soria or Madson on a one-year, low-base salary, incentive-laden “prove yourself then go out and get that big contract next offseason” contract, but the Royals are talking about re-signing the former while the latter still wants a closing job. The 32-year-old Lindstrom is probably a bit underrated, pitching to a 2.84 ERA (3.24 FIP) in 101 innings over the last two years. He throws very hard but is more of a ground ball guy than a strikeout guy, plus he spent most of this season with the Orioles and has at least some AL East experience. I’d take any and all of these guys on a one-year pact.

Jeb asks: If Brian Cashman offers Russell Martin another 3/20 and he turns it down, would you give him a qualifying offer? Assuming $/fWAR holds and fWAR might not capture his defense, perhaps this is worth the risk?

I wouldn’t worry so much about the $/WAR stuff since the Yankees are on their own little planet there. They’re well beyond the point of diminishing returns, meaning every additional dollar they spend adds less and less in terms of wins. You can only win so many baseball games a year regardless of how much you spend. More money means more probability, not more wins.

Anyway, the catching market is atrocious and that goes double for this offseason. There are two legitimate starting catchers on the free agent market this offseason: Martin and A.J. Pierzynski. Mike Napoli has caught more than 80 games once in a his career (2009) and no more than 70 games in the last three years. Kelly Shoppach hasn’t caught more than 75 games since 2008. Pierzynski turns 36 in December and is coming off a career year, plus he was never anything great on defense and is a world-class asshole. Martin doesn’t hit for average but he draws walks, hits for power, and is a pretty good (if not great) defender. He’s also won’t turn 30 until February.

For most of the season it appeared as though Martin (and his agent) made a huge mistake by not taking that three-year, $20M-something extension last winter, but I bet he gets a similar deal this offseason. There are enough big market teams who need a catchers (Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees) and Russ hasn’t yet gotten into his mid-30s, when catchers usually turned into pumpkins. Hell, Chris Iannetta just signed a three-year, $15.55M extension with the Angels despite hitting .240/.332/.398 while missing a bunch of time due to injury this year, and he didn’t even go on the open market. Martin should be able to find the extra $8-10M out there. I don’t think the Yankees will make him a qualifying offer, but I think it would make some sense. Worst case is he accepts and you’ve got him on expensive one-year contract. Considering the general lack of quality catchers, overpaying Martin for a year is a luxury the Yankees can afford.

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Report: Yankees have interest in re-signing Ichiro and Ibanez
What Went Right: Ichiro!
  • Murderers’ Row Boat

    As for granderson, in a perfect world not run by budgets the 2013 outfield would be Grandy in Left, Gardner in Center, and Hamilton in Right. However cost comes into play there as well as Hamilton’s “issues”.

    As for Soria, Madison, and Linstrom; they are all good pitchers that can be bought cheap so the bidding isn’t going to end cheap. You can pay these guys 500k during rehab but they will want $5m+ for the option year.

    • MannyGeee

      “As for granderson, in a perfect world not run by budgets the 2013 outfield would be Grandy in Left, Gardner in Center, and Hamilton in Right. ”

      And I am to assume this is ONLY for 2013. that is a shit scary option for 2013-2017. Hamilton is bound to fall off a cliff soon.

      Also, big left handed hairy monsters say hello

      • jjyank

        I want absolutely no part of Hamilton. Unless he’ll sign liek, a 2 year deal. Which he won’t, of course.

        • steve (different one)

          I would love to have Hamilton on a 1 year, $30M contract.

          But like others have pointed out, it doesn’t make too much sense to avoid the 2014 taxes if you’ve spent all of the savings in 2013.

          • jjyank

            Right. Hamilton would make the 2013 Yankees better. But he would probably be hurting a few of the teams after that.

          • Ted Nelson

            Just thinking out loud, but 1/30 might not be the craziest for Hamilton. In giving him a long-term year deal for, say, $20 million per you are probably assuming you get more than $20 million worth of production the first few years, and progressively less than $20 mill after that. I don’t know that an injury prone player would take the premium short-term instead of the security long-term, but it might be reasonable for the Yankees to do. You probably might get your money’s worth: he averages about 6 fWAR the past 3 years even with the injuries. He would really solidify the middle of the order.

            • jjyank

              I think most Yankee fans (myself included) would be thrilled with that scenario. But like you said, Hamilton is an injury prone player. This may be his one shot at a mega deal, I can’t imagine he’d settle for less.

              • I am not the droids you’re looking for…(I believe that children are our future)

                I actually only somewhat jokingly said 1/$50 million in a previous thread. Point is, he very much shores things up for the offense next year. And He obviously has no impact on the 2014 budget.

                Plus, he very much bridges the talent gap to 2014 at which point we will have a much better sense of what we have in the minors. By the time 2013 ends, we would theoretically have a large menu of options to fill the OF mixing cheap home grown guys plus veteran presents in the form of FA signings as needed.

                Almost impossible to imagine a scenario where the Yanks would resign Hamilton for 2014, though it wouldn’t be impossible depending on what happens at catcher, closer, starting pitching, etc. If some or most of those things go well, they’d have more room under $189mm than one might expect. I don’t expect it of course, but it’s not impossible.

  • MannyGeee

    I might almost make the qualifying offer to Russell Martin on the assumption he will decline it and look for a multi-year deal. He’s the best of a bad bunch, he’ll get his 3 yr deal from someone.

    And as frustrating as he has been at times, he is the best option for catcher (non-trade for Mauer-division)…

    • Murderers’ Row Boat

      Martin needs to come back no matter what. The problem with an “upgrade” at offense without losing defense is that there are only three full time catchers in baseball that meet those qualifications; Wieters, Ruiz, and Yadier Molina(And those three teams would never give those guys up). Otherwise you are stuck with a guy who has to platoon at first base.

    • Ted Nelson

      Agreed. I believe they’ll extend a QO.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…(I believe that children are our future)

        I actually think this is a little risky because I personally don’t think Martin is going to get as much as Mike and others seem to, perceived market be damned. I think 2 years at $7 mm is as high and long as I’d go for him. Will someone offer him 3 years? At that money? Possibly. Possibly. But compared to 1 year at $13.3 million, if I’m Martin I take that over 3 years at say $16 million.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I think the Nationals would probably be the team you would pursue if you were looking to trade Granderson, if they miss out on Bourn. You could possibly get Rendon, Perez, and Sandy Leon. That is of course a dream scenario for Granderson.

    • Ted Nelson

      BA had Rendon as the #19 prospect is all of baseball coming into the season. I really doubt you are going to get him for 1 year of Granderson at $15 mill. For Cano, sure, I can see that.

      To get their top prospect, another top 10 prospect, and a C prospect… no way in hell.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…(I believe that children are our future)

        If we ate say $5 million I think Rendon is a fair conversation point.

  • Eddard

    I’d trade Granderson. We’ve already heard that Ichiro wants to come back and the Yankees want him back so we have our RF for next season. Gardner will be back and we’ve already heard that he will be playing CF next season so we have our CF. The Yankees always rotate their LF so I think Granderson is expendable and they can just sign a cheap LF like they always do. They won’t re-sign him anyway so might as well get something for him.

    I wouldn’t give Martin a multi-year deal. He hit under .200 for most of the season and he’s not that great defensively. He doesn’t deserve a $13.3 million qualifying offer or a 3 year deal. He deserves a 1 year deal similar to what he got last year, nothing more nothing less.

    • Get Phelps Up

      “He deserves a 1 year deal similar to what he got last year, nothing more nothing less.”

      That’s great. But there will be a team out there willing to pay him. The Yankees should make resigning him one of their top offseason priorities. (unless some team gives him like 4 years and $50M)

      • MannyGeee

        wellp, someone gave John Buck 3 years, and we know Martin is at least somewhat better than John Buck…

        I would not think that 4/32 to 4/36 is out of the question. His health issues seem to be a thing of the past, so you are basically buying the remainder of his “safe for a catcher” years in one go.

        That said, 4 yrs is not our of the question for any team not called the Yankees…

    • steve (different one)

      I realize that 4 bad games has changed some people’s perception of how offense works in baseball, but the Yankees are (probably) going to NEED Granderson’s HRs.

      They can’t run out an OF that totals 40 HRs.

      You CAN have a few guys in your lineup that hit a ton of HRs and strike out a lot. The challenge is to BALANCE that with guys who get on base, steal bases, hit for average, etc.

      Swisher is leaving and taking his 25-30 HRs with him. The easiest way to add HRs is to hold onto Granderson.

      Bring Ichiro back if you want more contact, pair him with Jeter and Cano, and look to your backup 3B and DH spots to add more balance.

      The Yankees need Granderson. Despite what happened in the playoffs, the solution is NOT to build a lineup of slappy mcwaterbugs.

      • MannyGeee

        How did you know? I went as Slappy McWaterbug…

        • MannyGeee

          Early post fail….

          went as Slappy McWaterbug for Halloween… but it had nothing to do with baseball.

      • Slappy McWaterbug

        Dude, what the fuck?

    • Ted Nelson

      You’re great for comic relief.

  • nolan

    If we can get 2 good prospects for Granderson wouldnt the yankees be better off trading him and resigning swisher?

    – Swisher will get you 1 draft pick that you hope will one day turn into a good prospect. Granderson gets you 2 good prospects.
    – They will cost the same in 2013 (assuming Swisher gets a average annual salary = 15million) but Swisher was worth a full win more then Granderson was last year.
    – We have a better defensive center fielder (Gardner) who’s WAR (in 2011) was double that of Granderson.

    PLUS.. if you can trade Granderson for 2 good prospects you can then use those prospects (and a few of your own) to go out and get a Justin Upton, Alex Gordon etc.

    What am I missing?

    • jjyank

      That’s a legit option, I think. Though to be fair with the Gardner/Granderson comp, Gardner’s WAR is based on LF defense.

      I wouldn’t be opposed to this route at all.

    • Mark in VT

      Totally agree. Except that Swisher is looking for 4+ years. Not the best outlook long-term.

    • steve (different one)

      If you could spin Granderson into Upton via a 3 way trade, that would be something I could get behind.

      What I do not support is trading Granderson for the sake of trading him and filling the OF with stopgaps.

      • jjyank

        Agreed. If they can get a legit piece for Grandy, pull the trigger. If not, he provides more value to the 2013 Yankees than most people seem to realize.

      • 0-fur is murder

        You’ll find someone to spin straw in to gold before you find someone to spin Granderson in to Upton.

        • Steve (different one)

          The assumption was that the yanks would have to throw in more. Doesn’t seem that crazy.

          • nolan

            right… and it doesnt have to be Upton. What about Alex Gordon? If the yanks can trade Granderson for 2 good prospects and then package that together with Nova and hughes… doesnt that seem like a package the Royals (who’s ‘ace’ at the moment is Jeremy Guthrie or Ervin Santana) would accept?

            I think I would prefer Gordon and I also think he would come a bit cheaper.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting

              So that trade would make the Yankees current rotation:
              CC
              Phelps
              Warren
              Marshall
              ?

              They’d better get some SP’s signed before they even contemplate something like that.

    • Mr. Pappageorgio

      I think an outfield of Justin Upton, Gardner, and Swisher would be one of the best in baseball.

      Getting there involves a lot of moving pieces and things out of the Yankees control. Can Swisher be had on a 4 year Damon’esque contract?

      Is Arizona serious about trading Upton? If so, what do they need and what can we get for Granderson? Can they work out a three way deal for Upton involving Granderson?

      • steve (different one)

        I don’t think Swisher comes in that low (4 years, $13M per). I’ve been wrong before, but the market is very thin and Swisher, despite what Yankee fans believe, is a very good player.

        I think he gets 4-5 years at $15-17M.

  • toad

    Placido Polanco?

    Well, he’d be great at singing “God Bless America.” Oh, wait.

  • steve (different one)

    He’s hit .247/.337/.506 over the last three seasons

    In other words, he’s been an excellent Yankee. This is pretty out of step with current perception.

  • Kosmo

    Yanks could target Maicer Izturis or Jeff Keppinger as their utility IF.

  • Kosmo

    Granderson to the Mariners for:
    Jaso and Paxton

    Granderson to the Pirates for:
    Travis Snider, Alex Presley and Josh Bell

    Granderson to the Indians for:
    Choo, Cord Phelps and 1 of their 4 SS prospects:
    Paulino
    Wolters
    Rodriquez
    or
    Martinez

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t know that the Ms trade one of their top prospect for a 1 year upgrade. Even if they win 10 more games next season they’re a ways from the playoffs.

      If I’m a small budget team like Pittsburgh I’m not trading for one year of Granderson, either.

      Choo is about as good as Granderson. Not sure I’d pay more and give up more for what might not be an upgrade if I’m Cleveland.

      • Kosmo

        “I think the Yankees could realistically demand two good prospects for Granderson in a trade. Two guys in a club’s top ten prospects list, for example“ I was using Mike´s statement as a template.

        The Pirates have a logjam at the corner OF spots. They already have Marte, Tabata and Garrett Jones to consider. So losing under achieving players as trade material such as Snider/Presley isn´t such a bad idea. Josh Bell is still 3 years away.

        Paxton fits the top ten prospects list. He still is a year away and is still a “prospect`. The Mariners have a stud C prospect on his way so losing Jaso would not be a great loss.

        My Indian trade proposal is far fetched but it could easily be changed to include 1 of the Indians SS prospects and a pitching prospect with Cord Phelps to complete the deal. Phelps would then get a shot at being the utility IF at 2B and 3rd base.

        Just having fun .

        • Ted Nelson

          I think two prospects is a fair gauge. I just don’t know that small market and non-contending teams are going to have much demand for one year of Granderson at a healthy salary.

          If the Pirates are ok with paying Granderson, I would say they should be willing to give up at least that much. On the other hand, do the Yankees want an A-ball cOF and two low-probability MLB guys more than one year of Granderson? I don’t think the package is bad for Pittsburgh, I just don’t know if they want to take on $15 million. Maybe.

          I think the Ms is the only really unrealistic one.
          Paxton fits the “top 50 in baseball” list. I don’t think the Ms are giving up one of the best LHP prospects in baseball for one year of Granderson when that probably still won’t put them close to contention. He has a lot of value both to them and other teams. It’s like the Yankees trading Banuelos before last season for a one year LF rental.
          Then Jaso on top of that… Jaso is first time arb-elibible and produced about as well as Granderson last season. He only caught 1/4 of their games last season. I don’t think he’s really standing in Zunino’s way. They might be wise to deal him after he had a big year when there’s a shortage of Cs, but there are other guys they can trade him for. Guys with more team control who will still be around when the M’s might have a chance to compete.
          I could see Jaso and a lesser prospect/MLB guy or two. They have some interesting IF prospects besides Franklin. Still not sure Granderson has that much value to them, though, since I don’t think they’d contend with him.

          Maybe the Indians would want Granderson’s bat for one season. I could definitely see that. I wonder if they really have a match for the Yankees, though. A lot of their prospects are a few years away. Maybe a third team could get involved.

        • toad

          I can’t see the Pirates wanting Granderson. They make a move like that only when they think they need that one guy to put them into the post-season. The Pirates aren’t there, and would be better off spending the money on a longer term plan.

  • Travis L.

    What about Granderson to Atlanta? They need a CF and they hace pitching. Maybe we get a Delgado or Teheran, along with O’Flaherty and Varvaro? Or even something along those lines. That could be a good deal.