Pondering the fate of Curtis Granderson

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(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

I wrote about Phil Hughes’ upcoming contract yesterday*, and as I was writing it, I thought it might be fun to contemplate Curtis Granderson‘s future as well.  Specifically, I pondered whether he’ll A) remain in pinstripes, and b) if he doesn’t, what kind of contract could he be in line for on the free agent market.

Despite having an MVP caliber season in 2011, the Grandyman still has plenty of detractors. To be fair, some of the criticisms Granderson receives are legitimate gripes.  He doesn’t hit for average (career .262 BA, though he’s been about 30-40 points below that the past few seasons), he strikes out a ton (career 22.9 K%), and shows noticeable splits against lefties (career 85 wRC+ against southpaws, 132 wRC+ against righties). In 2012, he batted .232/.319/.492 (.346 wOBA, 119 wRC+) which was good for a 2.3 fWAR — a value basically equivalent to league average. This year, in limited time he’s hit .208/.333/.340 (.309 wOBA, 91 wRC+). That’s not exactly what you want to be seeing from a $15M dollar (now corner) outfielder.

However, one has to also give Curtis credit for his ability to hit the long ball, which is an increasingly valuable trait.  He hit 24 home runs in 2010 and 40+ home runs in each of the past two seasons. He’ll also show some patience (career 10.2 BB%) as well — and that shouldn’t be ignored given the impatient nature of this year’s Yankees squad.  On top of that, he can play a passable center field  though admittedly, his defense leaves something to be desired. Despite some unlucky injuries this season, he’s been pretty durable over the years, and I think it’s okay to assume he’ll be okay going forward. For what it’s worth, Granderson’s also the consummate professional and a respected ambassador of the sport, which is important for teams like the Yankees who value character and makeup.

The Yankees do have a surplus of outfielders, though I’d argue most of them are not ideally fit to be full-time starters.  I think it’s probably fair to wonder whether Granderson is more valuable than Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, and Vernon Wells. Heck, maybe you throw Brett Gardner in the mix too. Regardless of how you rank those guys, Granderson ultimately cracks the top three choices for New York’s everyday lineup. In terms of 2014 free agents, there really aren’t many quality left fielders available (unless you count Nate McLouth, which I don’t), and the only center fielder who really poses any upgrade to Granderson is Jacoby Ellsbury (who for the record, is also a player I have my doubts about).  My point here is it may behoove the Yankees to keep Grandy around for another year even if he’s not part of the long-term plan.  Conversely, the weak market could also play to Granderson’s advantage (though 2015 could actually be an even weaker market).

Depending on how serious the Yankees are in achieving their $189M budget (or remaining competitive for that matter), a qualifying offer might be in order.  This would give Granderson an opportunity to improve his value next season and would give the Yankees a trade chip that could potentially pay off if next season doesn’t work out.  In terms of salary, Grandy is currently earning $15M so the qualifying offer wouldn’t pose much of a pay cut, which isn’t all that bad considering the fact that this year was a lost year.  Obviously, if Grandy declined the offer, the Yankees would get the compensation draft pick which helps the team as well.  Now, before we go any further, I’d like to note that I think this is going to happen.  I don’t envision the Yankees simply cutting ties with Curtis at the end of the season, and frankly, I’m okay with seeing him in pinstripes for one more season.

But what happens if the Yankees do cut ties?  Well, it’s hard to tell what the market looks like for Granderson at this point.  If this season weren’t such a disaster, I’d say he could expect a big payday — probably one comparable to his old battery mate, Nick Swisher (four years, $56M with a $14M option in 2017)  or once-capable MLB player, Jason Bay (four year, $66M with an additional club option year).  As it stands, this year has been awful though, so obviously things could go a little differently.  For what it’s worth, Swisher was given the qualifying offer, so maybe they’re willing to go that route again.

Maybe if teams feel there are some question marks surrounding Grandy’s skill set moving forward, they offer him a deal similar to Corey Hart (three years, $26.5M) now.  Although it isn’t totally relevant, I also wonder if a guy like Nelson Cruz impacts how things go.  If he ends up getting a deal better than Melky Cabrera, maybe that inflates the contracts offered for everyone who is presumably “clean.”  Granderson’s injuries were an unlucky twist of fate for him.  It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees immediate future.

*As an aside, I think I’m done writing about Phil Hughes for a while.  It’s getting exhausting.

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  • trr

    Granderson is strictly a one trick pony now; however that trick is something the team desperately needs now. Giving him any kind of long term contract should be out of the question. A one year QO could be the answer, but to me his declining skill set is troubling . It’s still a relatively small sample, but the middle line-up combination of Granderson/Soriano/Rodriguez has been abysmal so far. A 2014, with these 3 a year older could leave us exactly where we are now – or worse.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’s a hell of a trick, though. Let’s not poo-poo it too much.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Nice usage of the phrase poo-poo.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Is that “one trick” hitting for elite power or walking a lot?

      • trr

        power, Les. power.

      • trr

        power, Les. power.

      • trr

        power, Les. power.

      • trr

        power, Les. power.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          Wait, is his trick power?

        • FIPster Doofus

          I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers.

    • NYPLATOONS

      After that disaster of a post season in 2012 they should “trade” well now let him walk. We already have one of these one trick pony’s on our team his name is Tex. I wouldn’t miss Granderson, Ichrio, and Gardner but with al these quick fixes I’m not sure this team is able to do the right things down the road.

      I rather take a look at Shin-Soo Choo who is 31 but can actually get on base and do a few things Granderson can’t do.

      • NYPLATOONS

        Also when is this team going to realize Gardner isn’t no Micky Mantle? They sure treat him like he is.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

          Huh?
          Who treats him like Mickey Mantle?
          He’s a solid, above average all around player.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            No, you see, they’re treating him like he is no Mickey Mantle, but they should be treating him like he is Mickey Mantle.

        • http://comcast 42yankee

          He may not be no Mickey Mantle but he was the reason the Yanks took 2 out 3 from Detroit. What did Granderson do?? ZIP. Also he saved the game with his defense. They should treat him a step above the rest. He’s been doing the job this year. so grow up and cheer, instead of snivieling……

      • Oy

        Choo would great for next year and Yanks have the perfect platoon partner for him in Ichiro. I’d hesitate giving him Upton’s contract, but Boras will certainly demand it. Something like 5/70 should get it done. Add McCann for 5/90 and wish Robbie good luck in LA/Detroit.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          Ichiro? I think you misspelled Soriano.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

            Ichiro’s actually been better against LHP than Soriano has this year, fwiw.

            But I think using a lefty as the RH sign of the platoon might cause the binder to self-implode.

  • mt

    Granderson at $14 million for one year (assuming he gets a QO and accepts it) may put even more pressure on Yanks getting rid of one of Wells, Soriano, Suzuki or even Gardner (getting players in a trade for Gardner, of course) – Grandy at $14 million, Gardner at $6 million, and then Wells, Soriano, and Ichiro at $$10.5 million AAV or so is too much for an OF which is still not that great from an offensive standpoint – I guess, if he does accept QO, is Grandy tradeable at $14 million?

    Separate and apart from QO gamesmanship and strategy, I wonder if only way Yanks even want Grandy back on team as a player is if Cano leaves.

    Speaking of Cano, article by Klapisch today is a great summary of what I have been feeling about Cano coming back – why would Robby want to come back to Yankees situation especially if Dodgers want him? Dodgers of course have some bad long-term contracts too (Gonzalez and Crawford and maybe Greinke) but those players are performing better currently than Yankees bad contracts (CC, Arod, Teix) – also Kershaw and Puig are relatively young.

    Actually my biggest fear is not that Cano leaves – biggest fear is that Yanks panic and give him an outrageously ridiculous contract (8 years for $200 milion plus or something like that) perpetuating the cycle.

  • Dick M

    Trade him for Austin Jackson.

    • Cashman’s Mistress

      Heh. And there are still people who call that a great trade.

      Want funny?

      Since AJax debuted in 2010, he’s been worth more bWAR than all prospects who debuted with the Yankees *combined*. And it ain’t even close.

      That’s four years of not one decent prospect. It’s no surprise that in spite of $200M spent each year, this club is going nowhere.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Also funny, 2012 and 2013 are the only years he’d have been one of their 3 best outfielders.

        • Cashman’s Mistress

          Why make shit up?

          AJax was a 5 WAR player in both 2010 and 2011. That’s better than Swisher in both years, easily. And better than Granderson in 2010 and Gardner in 2011.

          Then you have the awful pickups (ones they gave away decent prospects for) who took ABs – guys like Kearns, Berkman, etc.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            Just to be clear, you’re saying that Austin Jackson was a 5 WAR player in 2011, and that I am making shit up?

            • Cashman’s Mistress

              Since you seem to have trouble using the internets:

              http://www.baseball-reference......ting_value::none

              • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

                Only 2.4 fWAR that year.
                Jackson’s +29 DRS in 2011 rather strains credibility, especially since he’s never managed even half of that in any other season.

              • Cool Lester Smooth

                Nah, I just use Fangraphs because of shit like DRS having AJax as a +29 fielder in 2010.

                • Cashman’s Mistress

                  Heh, funny how the fanboys can only generate one criticism.

                  Ajax was always said to be a fantastic defender. And he’s shown that. His comp coming up was Mike Cameron.

                  Even still, you guys are bitching about one year. Even if I grant the defensive metric is high, he was still a 4 WAR player in 2011. That’s better than Swisher.

                  • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

                    His UZR was in line with his normal defensive levels in 2011. fWAR uses UZR. His fWAR was 2.4, not 4. Swisher’s was 3.5. Gardner’s was 4.9.
                    And to add another version of WAR as somewhat of a tiebreaker, by WARP (the Baseball Prospectus versionof WAR) in 2011: Swisher 3.5, Gardner 3.4, Jackson 1.9.

                  • Manny’s BanWagon

                    Yankees definitely lost that trade big time. You haven’t even mentioned Kennedy’s WAR or how Granderson has been paid way, way more than either of them combined.

                    Also, Jackson is just entering him prime and Granderson has one foot out the door so when you look back 10 years from now, this trade is gonna look hugely lopsided and not in the Yankees favor.

                    • Cool Lester Smooth

                      And you know what, I’d make that trade again tomorrow.

                    • JGYank

                      We did lose that trade and I wish we kept Jackson but it still wasn’t as bad as the Vasquez deal.

                    • Manny’s BanWagon

                      And it would be a mistake again Lester smooth.

                    • Cool Lester Smooth

                      The process was utterly sound. If McCutchen has a down age 28 season I wouldn’t hesitate to trade Heathcott or Williams and ManBan for his 29-31 years, and it won’t be a mistake even if Williams turns into Jackson and ManBan has 2 decent years and a single great one in the NL West.

                      A good GM should always, always make that trade.

                  • Cool Lester Smooth

                    You would rather have had AJax’s 88 wRC+ (.305 wOBA) in YSIII’s RF that year than Swisher’s 124 wRC+ and .360 wOBA?

                    You must really love defense…

                    • JGYank

                      The point is we could have a young cheap outfielder now when we really need one instead of wells or soriano.

                    • Manny’s BanWagon

                      No, I’d rather have Ajax 14.8 fWAR plus IPK’s 11.0 fWAR over Grandersons 12.8 fWAR over the last 3+ years at a fraction of the cost.

                      That trade is already lopsided against the yanks and it’s gonna look worse every year.

                    • Cool Lester Smooth

                      Yeah, I’m really impressed with Kennedy! He’s been almost as good as AJ Burnett in an even easier offensive environment than the NL Central!

                      Seriously, Ian Kennedy is why Phil Hughes will get a nice deal in the NL West.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    Depending on how serious the Yankees are in achieving their $189M budget (or remaining competitive for that matter), a qualifying offer might be in order

    I think a QO is the most likely course of action at this point. The Yankee can’t just let him leave for nothing and on the chance he accepts, its not like they don’t need his power. This years FA market sucks so I gotta think someone will offer 3/$45 or somewhere in that ballpark.

  • Oy

    I’d offer him a qualifier and leave it at that. A 32 year old OF who’s only tool is power, strikes out at a 30% rate….bleh. In my opinion, his closest comparison is Dunn. Even though Granderson can actually field, Dunn had a 3.0 WAR FA year and posted 381 wOB and 136 wRC+. So he’ll probably get somewhere close to 4 yrs/$56M.

  • Cashman’s Mistress

    “*As an aside, I think I’m done writing about Phil Hughes for a while. It’s getting exhausting.”

    Says the guy who fanned the flames here on Hughes getting a four year contract north of $50M. You are exhausted because you couldn’t break through the clutter that is fandom to have seen him for what he is – perhaps the worst starting pitcher in MLB over the last three years. That’s not exhausting once you recognize the reality.

    Instead, you were telling folks he was as valuable as any backend starter and deserving of that treatment and contract. Problem is, he’s not even close to that good. He could have been a decent reliever. Now? He’s replacement level. By this point it’s clear to any one with a modicum of baseball knowledge that Hughes is a joke. A bad joke perpetuated on their fanbase by an org that has no idea how to develop prospects and too stubborn to admit the obvious in time to help the clube on the field.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      You’re smart and you make well reasoned points.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      perhaps the worst starting pitcher in MLB over the last three years

      Nope.
      Inconsistent back of the rotation starter? Yep.
      Worst in MLB?
      Nope.

      • Cashman’s Mistress

        Clearly you haven’t bothered yourself to look at the numbers. Hughes has been among the worst starting pitcher in MLB, like bottom five bad.

        And the reason is simple – any one else who has been as bad as him was bounced from starting.

        But keep burying your head in the sand…

        • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

          I notice you didn’t use any stats to back that assertion up.
          Because there are no stats that back that assertion up.
          I know this because I have looked up the numbers.

          • Cashman’s Mistress

            Seriously? Statistics don’t exist? Try the Play Index. Find even five starting pitchers with more than 350 innings over the last three years and lower than an 87 ERA+. Or 350 innings and a combined 1.3 bWAR.

            Good luck with that.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

              2011-2013
              96 starters with min 350 IP (though there are 150 rotation spots)
              Hughes isn’t in even the bottom 10 in ERA-, FIP-, or fWAR
              Even when you completely ignore over 50 rotation spots, Hughes isn’t in the 10 worst.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

              Even using Play Index with your terms, he’s not even bottom 10 in bWAR or ERA+, and there are less than 90 SP results of 150 rotation spots.

  • phil

    they have to sign Brian McCann and Johnny Peralta (to play 3rd)

    • Cashman’s Mistress

      Why? This club isn’t contending in 2014. Signing more overpriced past-prime players is exactly why they are so bad right now. If they were one player away, McCann would be a good choice. But they aren’t one or two players short. They need five or six position players and three starters.

      That said, of course, they’ll sign more OPP. I mean, why not?

      • NYPLATOONS

        Just going to sign more trash and more quick fixes. Last place might be a good thing for them if it can open some peoples eyes on that staff and team.

        That’s what I was saying to people that they aren’t fixing things back in 2011 and before you know it 1 hole, 2 hole, 3 hole, Now this team has 30 holes.

        Funny part is just about every dummy poster on the Yesnetwork forums said this team is fine and will be PO bound this year. I laughed and never went back to post. The level of intelligence just wasn’t there for me a lot of posters who think they know baseball but in all just don’t.

      • Dick M

        The scary part is that Hal and the boys have embraced the model. Bring in some recognizable names like Wells and Soriano. Never mind that you can’t win with them. And if u can get some side revenue (Ichiro) all the better. Take advantage of the brand, man. Reminds me of the football Giants in the late 60’s and the 70’s.

        • trr

          More like the Rangers/Knicks circa 10 years ago. The Giants of my youth were just incompetent. These Yankees are the inevitable result corporatization run wild. Anyone who’s set foot in the shopping mall they call a ballpark knows whereof I speak.

          • Dick M

            They were incompetent yes. But every seat was sold and the wait list went on for generations. The point is when you have a brand like that, management can get away with poor performance and not have it show up in the bottom line, at least for a while.

    • Dick M

      Forget McCann. They have 2 viable catching prospects in Romine and Murphy who are ready.

      They do need to address the left side of the infield.

      • trr

        (as Norton)

        Hellll-oooo left side of the infield!

        ..beyond that, I’d love to know what their plan is. Guess we’ll start seeing in about 3 months

  • Cashman’s Mistress

    “The Yankees do have a surplus of outfielders, though I’d argue most of them are not ideally fit to be full-time starters. ”

    You’d argue? Seriously? Like there’s any argument to this statement? They have one starter for 2014 and two bench guys. That’s inarguable. Soriano is right at the borderline.

    I’m right between laughing and crying. They have four guys you can pencil OF next to their names, but if they had any hope of competing, they still need two other OFs.

    Awful.

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    Of course they’ll give him a qualifying offer. If he accepts, he’ll be one of their best offensive players and give them a second starting caliber OF. If he declines, they’ll get a draft pick. There’s no downside.

    Also, unless you believe that Grandy was the worst defensive CF in the game last year, he was much closer to a 3 WAR guy than he was a 2 WAR one. He was the 9th best offensive CF in the game despite a .260 BABiP, 44 points below his career average, and a batted ball profile essentially identical to his career rate, albeit with more line drives.

    Wait, what am I talking about?! He doesn’t hit for a great average, so he must be TEH SUXORZ!!!!11!!1!!

  • Kosmo

    Granderson epitomizes what by definition has become known as a garbage time player. If you take the time to check his stats he usually disappears offensively after the 4 inning. He has 212 career HRs 140 are solo shots, 110 with NY, 64 being solo. He often tenses up in key situations. Teams know they can get him out virtually all the time with the game on the line. Yanks don´t need .240 hitters. His OBP with NY stands at about .339 nothing great by any means.

    Let him walk take the draft pick. Please no QO.

    Yanks could have picked up the RHH Rios for about the same money Granderson is getting and have had Rios locked up for just 2 more years instead of shelling out a 4-5 year contract to a grossly overrated player in Granderson which is what Granderson will probably command on the FA market.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      You don’t get the draft pick if you don’t make him a QO…

      • Kosmo

        true ! hopefully he doesn´t accept.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      I don’t think they give Granderson a long term deal, at least I hope not.
      I really wouldn’t want Rios for next year either. They need a solidly above average corner OF bat. Rios isn’t that. Neither is Soriano or Ichiro, unfortunately.
      Offer Grandy the QO. Hope he rejects it. But it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have him for 1/$14. He may even have trade value at that price if he finishes the season reasonably strong and they don’t want him next year.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Exactly, if we give him a QO we either get a draft pick or a second above average outfielder for $14 million.

      • Kosmo

        I have Rios as the 4th best offensive OF :
        Bautista
        Cruz
        Myers although SSS
        Markakis 5th
        and out of that batch he´s the best defensive OF.

        look around, Rios could have filled a huge hole going into next year for NY just taking on a 2 year contract. Now anyone turning up as a fA will demand longterm deals something NY may disinclined to give. Yanks fucked up on Rios.

  • bill

    Big money Hal is not going spend money to keep granderson or cano lets hope they offered him a qualifying offer,

    hal doesnot care about winning just the 189 million payroll

  • parmesan

    Given next year’s impending outfield situation, I absolutely think the Yankees should look to re-sign Grandy. He’s obviously a flawed player, but he will give you very good defense in an OF corner, elite power, good speed, and above-average patience at the plate. A 3 yr. + vesting or 4 yr. + player-option is at $12MM or so seems reasonable, and if there’s a team out there that’s willing to do a lot better you don’t pursue it, but I think looking to bring him back on those terms would be a good move.