Oct
30

Poll: Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, and the qualifying offer

By
(Rob Carr/Getty)

(Rob Carr/Getty)

One way or another, the 2013 baseball season will be over within the next 48 hours. It could end as soon as tonight. Once it does, a couple hundred players will become free agents and the offseason officially gets underway. There is a five-day waiting period before players can negotiate and sign with new teams, but a lot happens in those five days. Specifically, teams must decide whether to tender qualifying offers to their top free agents.

The qualifying offer system is rather simple. This winter it is a one-year contract worth $14.1M, and if you make the offer to an impending free agent, you are entitled to a supplemental first round draft pick if he rejects and signs elsewhere. If he accepts, then he’s back on your team at that price. The Yankees will surely make Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda qualifying offers — the $14.1M actually represents a pay cut for both — but not others like Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan. Only super-elite relievers get paid that much.

Guys like Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Brendan Ryan won’t receive a qualifying offer for obvious reasons. There’s also no need to extend an offer to either Mariano Rivera or Andy Pettitte since both are retiring. Even if they do have a sudden change of heart and decide to pitch next year, the $14.1M price would be a bit steep. As much as the Yankees would love Pettitte and/or Rivera to return, they also don’t want either accepting the offer and blowing up their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold.

Two players are on the qualifying offer fence: Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. They’re on the fence for different reasons, obviously. There’s a case to be made for extending the $14.1M tender to both guys and a case to me made for not making the offer at all, so let’s make them.

(Ron Antonelli/Getty)

(Ron Antonelli/Getty)

Curtis Granderson
The Case For: Before an injury-plagued 2013 season, Granderson was one of the game’s premier power hitters. His 84 homers between 2011 and 2012 were the most in baseball, and during those two seasons he hit .247/.342/.522 (131 wRC+) while playing in 316 of 324 possible games. Granderson is still only 32 (he’ll turn 33 in March), so he’s not yet at an age when you’d expect him to start a significant decline. The Yankees were power-starved last season so even if Granderson accepts, he would go a long way towards correcting that problem.

The Case Against: Curtis was limited to only 61 games this past season due to a pair of fluky hit-by-pitch injuries, pitches that broke bones in his right forearm and left hand. When he was healthy late in the year, he only managed a .229/.317/.407 (97 wRC+) batting line and only seven homers, so he didn’t show his usual power. It could have been the result of the hand/arm injuries or it could have been signs of decline. Granderson has always struck out a ton (26.5% even during 2011-2012) and he doesn’t have a ton of defensive value, even in a corner spot. I think we can all agree the one-year aspect would be great, but the $14.1M price might be a tad pricey.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Phil Hughes
The Case For: Pitching is hard to find, man. Tim Lincecum landed a two-year deal worth $17.5M annually despite pitching to a 4.76 ERA (3.95 FIP) over the last two years. Hughes, who is two full years younger than Lincecum, had a 4.65 ERA (4.53 FIP) over the last two years in a much tougher ballpark and division. That isn’t to say he’s worth the same annual salary (or more) than Lincecum, just that Timmy’s deal might encourage him to explore the open market. Hughes will be the youngest free agent starting pitcher by far and his ability to get ahead in the count — only Cliff Lee has thrown a higher percentage of first pitch strikes these last two years — could have a pitching savvy team thinking he’s a new grip or some tinkering away from being a frontline starter with his (theoretical) prime years still to come. Even if he were willing to take a one-year contract in an effort to improve his stock before going back out in the market next year, Yankee Stadium and the AL East is not the place he’d do it. At his age, there are plenty of reasons for Phil to want to explore the free agency.

The Case Against: Hughes has been pretty terrible these last two years, especially in 2013. He had a 5.19 ERA (4.50 FIP) overall and a 6.65 ERA (4.57 FIP) in the second half. Phil only threw 145.2 innings across 29 starts (and one relief appearance) because he led baseball with 14 starts of fewer than five full innings. Barry Zito was a distant second with ten. His fly ball tendencies are an awful fit for Yankee Stadium and even if you think he’s ready to turn the corner and break out, $14.1M is a very steep price to pay. That kind of salary is reserved for sure thing starters, not projects. Even if Hughes were to find a multi-year contract offer this winter, it’s possible he wouldn’t be guaranteed that much money total. Phil could take the money, hope to either rebound or get traded to a team with a ballpark that better suits his skillset, then go back out on the market next year, when he’ll still only be 28. A pitcher coming off this kind of season could very easily decide to take the money, which would severely impact the team’s payroll situation heading into 2014.

* * *

If Granderson and Hughes had typical Granderson and Hughes seasons — for Phil I think that means repeating 2012 (4.23 ERA and 4.56 FIP in 191.1 innings) — then making both guys the qualifying offer would be a no-brainer. Especially Granderson. That isn’t the case through, and now the Yankees are left with a difficult decision to make for both guys. How much do they value potential compensation draft picks compared to financial flexibility and having a better chance to stay under the luxury tax? That’s the question they have to answer within five days of the end of the World Series.

Should the Yankees make Granderson or Hughes a qualifying offer?

Categories : Polls

75 Comments»

  1. Mattchu12 says:

    I’m an irrationally big Hughes fan, but I’m have come to accept he will never be more than a #3 starter at best. Still, I would love to resign him and use him out of the bullpen. With Mo gone, and how awesome Phil was out of the bullpen a few years back, he could be a key piece in 2014 if no one doles out the big bucks to risk him as a starter. Unlikely, but a guy can dream of a once prospect making an actual major impact in New York, can’t he?

  2. BB says:

    I don’t see how anyone would want to deal with Hughes in pinstripes for another season. Good riddance.

    • yankeeinexile says:

      I’d love to offer him a QO, because I do think he’ll turn it down and look elsewhere. He knows YSIII kills him and wants to set up for a potentially big payday down the line.

      • Wolfgang's Fault says:

        Ditto. Not convinced he couldn’t turn it around, but either way, if he turns down the q/o, you get a quality pick, & if he takes the dough, he gets another chance to turn it around, & if he does, you’ve got one of your starting spots filled for ’14, & if he fails, you deal him for what you can get by — say, June 15th. Just can’t justify paying him $14+M for being a reliever. Another thing w/Hughes is if you do offer him the q/o, he accepts, & he pitches well enough to reestablish his value, you’ve got a guy you can deal for quality prospects come the trade deadline if the team is out of serious contention. So, yeah, I’d make the q/o to Hughes

        As for Granderson, no brainer. One year q/o & odds are he goes to the White Sox anyway. He takes the q/o, you deal him to the White Sox (or some other suitor) for a quality prospect or two or a good player under team control. Gotta try to maximize these opportunities to get younger talented players/prospects.

  3. 28 this year says:

    Is there really a downside to offering Pettitte or Rivera a QO just in case?

    They definitely won’t decide to come out of retirement within the week they have to accept the QO so it doesn’t really matter. This is more a concern for Pettitte than Rivera because there is slightly higher chance that Pettitte decides to pitch and maybe not the Yankees although unlikely and basically nil.

    • Slugger27 says:

      the downside is paying them that much $$. its not like theyll come back and play for another team, so theres no draft pick to benefit. if pettitte gets an itch in january or something, they could probably sign him for $10M instead of the $14M+

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I’d have no problem paying either that money, but I’m pretty sure it’s all a wasted effort. I guess it’s worth the ten minutes it’ll take to sign off on the paperwork.

        • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

          While there may be reasons to exceed the 189M threshold, resigning Mo and Pettitte is not among them. There is zero chance of Mo resigning with another team, while the chance of Andy signing with another team is tiny, and the chance of him signing with another team for more than the Yankees would be willing to pay him even tinier. Given essentially no chance of getting an extra draft pick, there is no reason to take the risk that one would change his mind and accept. Don’t forget, either can choose to accept the QO, and then retire in April; there is no downside to either player to accept the QO. So why should the Yankees take on the extra level of uncertainty as they plan 2014 payroll?

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I don’t take the 189 plan into account when thinking about these things. I’ll be honest. It’s just not my problem.

            I think it’d be a completely wasted effort and that neither guy is coming back. All I’m saying is that, if someone truly wants every “I” dotted, I wouldn’t care if they did it as a purely symbolic move.

    • Laz says:

      Where else will Andy go?
      It’s not like Houston is a better looking team.

  4. I think because of the terrible pitching market out there that you have to make a QO to both parties. Grandersons power bat would be really hard to replace, and the flukyness of the injuries makes me think that another team out there would at least offer him a 2 year deal if not more. As for Hughes, even if he accepts the QO you have someone in the back end of the rotation that you know you can possibly get some production from. By no means is he the best solution to the problem but he is a way better option than to rely on what the Yankees have internally at the moment.

    • mitch says:

      I don’t care how bad the pitching market is. You can’t pay that much for Hughes. If you really want to overpay for a back of the rotation guy on a one year deal, you could easily sign Scott Feldman or Paul Maholm for 10mil or so. I’d prefer to put that money towards a more premium arm like Tanaka and fill the 5 spot with a cheap internal arm.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Exactly.

        • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

          I’m assuming the Yankees are serious about the $189M. So to me, a key question is: can the Yankees dump the player without eating too much of his salary if he accepts the QO? Grandy is low risk to me; not only might the Yankees have a use for him, but if they decided later they couldn’t afford him they could probably dump him for at least 90 cents on the dollar; possibly even 100 cents and a useful AAAA outfielder. In Hughes case, if he accepted and they tried to get rid of him, they would have to eat half his contract.

          • Wolfgang's Fault says:

            Not if Hughes pitches well. He’d reestablish his value, & plenty of clubs would be looking for extra pitching come June/July. You could then decide whether you’d want to give him an extension or deal him then. Not like we’re thick w/arms presently. I’d roll the dice on him & make the q/o.

      • Paul Maholm? Really? Come on. What do you mean by premium arm? Like a guy who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors yet, those kind of premium arms?

        Could be worse, you could have been the guy that just penciled in Pineda and Josh Johnson at the back end of the rotation yesterday.

    • qwerty says:

      Wow, you must be high? Why would the yankees pay Hughes 14 million when they can get the same out of Adam Warren for minimum pay?

  5. mick taylor says:

    how about signing carlos beltran this year, and nick markakis next year. ichiro and wells and soriano will be off the books after 2014. markakis is a really good player.

  6. Kosmo says:

    Hopefully if NY offers a QO to Granderson he´ll decline. Yanks need offensive players who can post better numbers than a .245 ave and alot and I mean alot of garbage time HRs. Granderson has become a HR or bust type of player with slowly eroding D.
    All fans ever point to are all the HRs Granderson hit in 2011-12, all the while rarely commenting on all the flaws in his game. NY doesn´t bat him in the middle of the lineup for good reason because he doesn´t deliver in the clutch. A .335 lifetime OBP with the Yanks. Certainly nothing special.
    Last half of the 2012 season he hit a measly .212.

    • qwerty says:

      you won’t find a better candidate in the offseason to play centerfield for you. I’d trade Gardner and keep Granderson on to play center.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        That would be a very expensive downgrade.
        They better be getting a lot in trade return for that to remotely make any sense.

        • qwerty says:

          Something is better than nothing. The yankees already have an overflowing outfield. Gardner is expendable.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

            Gardner is the most valuable OF they’ve got. By a large margin.
            Gardner definitely isn’t expendable if they’re trying to win this year.

  7. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Yes to Granderson. No to Hughes.

    I’d rather have Granderson on a reasonable three-year deal and have Beltran/lose pick as a potential Plan B or C. That road should start with the QO, though, and seeing if he accepts.

    With Hughes, no, he pitched himself out of it this year and there’s a long enough pattern of inconsistency that I’m willing to roll the dice on someone else being inconsistent for less. I hope he finds success somewhere else.

    • Wolfgang's Fault says:

      Gotta give Hughes one more shot w/the q/o, & he he turns it down, we walk away w/a quality prospect. He’s certainly not worth $14M at this point, but they can recoup that if he pitches well or he turns down the offer & we get a solid kid for him. Gawd, I hate the Red Sox!!!

  8. LarryM Fl says:

    I like Phil. He goes out there and gives it his best. That is just it. He gives his best. It is not good enough. He has never developed a change up. A pitch in vogue for many of the elite pitchers as and out pitch. He has tampered with it even displayed it at times but it has no future apparently. Reason is unknown and troubling. No QO IMHO.

    Curtis Granderson’s season was an aberration of injuries and false starts. He can hit .250 with the power numbers. He will play the field as well as Choo. He is a better risk at being picked uped as a FA for a better deal than the Yankees one year offer. I would offer him the QO.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      That amazing curveball got fucked with so much. It was a thing of beauty when he first came up.

      • JohnnyC says:

        Don’t want to rehash things but Hughes changed his wind-up and delivery after tearing his hamstring in his no-hit bid in Texas. Whether it was his doing or on advice from the Yankees’ crack development staff, he shortened his long stride severely, lowered his arm slot, and aborted his momentum downhill and toward the plate. Fatal moves. He lost the angle on his great curveball and tried to get movement by developing a cutter (which further degraded the good slider he once possessed and which was taken away by Nardi Contreras to decrease the risk of injury when he entered the system). In short, his new mechanics left all his pitches in the upper half of the zone. With no consistent breaking ball and no change of speed, he’s a one pitch pitcher. It’s predictable he sucked. He’ll sign somewhere else where they have a professional pitching coach and he’ll do very well.

        • LarryM Fl says:

          I like your explanation but its just not that easy even for the professional pitching coach.

          • JohnnyC says:

            Does it help to remember that Nova straightened himself out both times in ’11 and ’13 when he was handled by Scott Alldred, Scranton’s PC, and not Rothschild?

            • Mike Axisa says:

              If Nova needs his hand held by a specific pitching coach to be effective, then he’s not worth having on the roster.

              Also, he had a 4.50-ish ERA in the first month after being recalled in 2011.

  9. toad says:

    Granderson yes, because there’s upside if he accepts

    Hughes is trickier. If he turns it down, great. If he takes it you are overpaying by some amount, but not $14.1 million. You could, I guess, trade him and pick up part of the salary, essentially spending the money to get whatever you get in return.

    I’d take the risk, but wouldn’t argue with not making the QO.

  10. greg says:

    Main purpose of a QO is to chill the bidding. Best of all worlds is Grandy accepts. Fear is that Hughes would too. Yes on Grandy. No on Hughes.

  11. Betty Lizard says:

    As soon as I read the argument in favor of a qualifying offer to Phil Hughes, marble-sized hail began falling and covered the ground.
    Coincidence? I think not.

  12. Bavarian Yankee says:

    I guess a qualifying offer to Granderson is a no-brainer. If he accepts: fine. If he declines: fine.
    Hughes is another case. You can only offer him a QO if you are 100% sure he declines. That’s not the case, nobody will pay him $15M a year. He’d accept and hope to rebuild some value, even if he’s just a reliever. There’s basically no reason for him to decline a QO and the Yanks can’t afford to have him on the payroll. So yeah, no way Hughes gets a QO.

  13. Bobby d says:

    Have you all forgotten granderson striking out every single time in the post season series against Detroit? He can’t hit good pitching at all doesn’t work the count doesn’t give you a good at bat. We need to move on. Watch the at bats the Red Sox players give you. They might not get a hit but they put pressure on the pitcher extend his pitch count and tire him. We need players like that. Signing Beltran despite his age is obvious. It would improve our lineup tremendously.

    • Bavarian Yankee says:

      Granderson doesn’t work the count or give you a good AB? Have you watched him play during the past years? He was 2nd on the team in walks in 2012 and 2011. He was 14th in 2012 and 12th in 2011 in BB in all of baseball! If he doesn’t work the count then nobody does.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Thank you.

      • Kosmo says:

        you forget all the strikeouts. His best OBP for NY was .364 in 2011 in the other 3 years with NY he´s never topped .324. Batted .212 last half of 2012.
        What player have you been watching?

        • Bavarian Yankee says:

          I’ve watched the one that never had a slg % below .468 ;)

          He’s a power hitter, if he’d be an OBP guy too he’d be one of the very best players in baseball. That’s the difference of us debating if he’s worth offering a QO and offering him 8/160.

        • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

          The Yankees really could have used a .320 OBP/.480 SA OF last year. That would have meant no Vernon Wells, and 3 more wins.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          If only there were some kind of statistics that weighed the value of the good vs. the bad offensively and came up with an overall assessment of whether a player’s total offensive contributions were average, above average, or below average.

          Or maybe a statistic that measured the total run expectancy added above average given the performance in the specific situations that player faced.

          Hmmmmmmmm

        • Craig Sagermetrics says:

          Come on man strikeouts don’t matter, HR’s are the only counting stat that does.

          In fact, if Granderson was guaranteed to hit 50 HR but strikeout every single other at bat for the entire 2014 season there would still be people here saying how great he is.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

            Yep. That’s exactly it. Not a gross exaggeration at all.

            Strikeouts matter. Just not nearly as much as some make them out to matter.

            And exactly nobody here would say how great he is in the scenario you described.
            In fact, nobody here describes him as “great” at all.
            He’s above average offensively (prior to this year anyways) despite the strikeouts. Try dealing with reality instead of arguing against strawmen.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        He also can’t hit good pitching. That .267/.375/.535 career batting line in the playoffs before 2012 all came against bad pitching, the kind that supposedly doesn’t exist in the postseason.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      We haven’t forgotten the 2012 ALCS. You seem to have forgotten everything but the 2012 ALCS and 2013 post-season.

      There’s a place for power/high-strikeout guys in baseball. I’m just fine with Curtis, warts and all, for a couple of more seasons.

      The idea of Beltran is fine. If there’s a route you can go without bringing in the Type-A guy, you pursue it first. I just think that’s much smarter management of things that will give you an extra edge at building that better farm system people complain about every third comment.

  14. John C says:

    I bet the Players Union will fight hard to have the QO eliminated during the next CBA negotiation becuase it hurts some players marketablilty. Won’t affec the top guys like Cano who teams don’t mind losing a draft pick for. But it definitely hurts the midlevel guys like it hurt Kyle Loshe last year. Teams are very hesitant to sacrifice a #1 pick for someone who is only midlevel. Example would be Stephen Drew, whom the Sox intend to QO so they can get a draft pick, but it may take a team with a protected first rounder to have incentinve to sign him.

  15. RealityCheck says:

    I say make the QO to Hughes. In order for him to turn it down, he doesn’t need a $15Mil per year offer. He needs a 3 yr/$7M per year, and I could see that being out there. (I’m not saying I’d offer that, just that someone might.)

    • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

      He won’t know whether it is out there until after he declines the QO. But let’s suppose you are correct.

      If he accepts the QO for year 1, he is gambling he can make up the difference in years 2 and 3. Ignoring discounted cash flow considerations, he would need a 2 year, $3M per year contract to get $21M over three years. He’ll get a good deal more than that if he’s healthy, even if he basically sucks the first year. So basically he’s gambling on his health, and not that much at that..

  16. Laz says:

    I see no reason not for Granderson.
    The only case for Hughes is the Lincecum deal, which is very tempting.

  17. There's the Door says:

    Yes on Curtis — no lose. Emphatic no on Hughes. He could easily accept, which would be a disaster. Wish him the best elsewhere.

  18. Mister D says:

    Offer both. Granderson because he’d be fine on a 1 year, $14.1MM contract, if a bit overpaid. Hughes because he’s still young, pitching is impossible to find, he’s probably ready to leave NY and teams with protected 1sts will be among those looking at him. I just can’t see him taking a one year deal when longer term and lower AAV outside the stadium should be there.

  19. csonk says:

    No to both – at some point this team needs to TRY to get better.
    Getting better wouldn’t include a Pitcher that just flat out stinks or a declining defensive OF that hits .235-.240 and had 2 ‘flukey’ years where he hit a ton of HRs. Just because there aren’t viable options out there doesn’t mean they should throw WAAAAY too much money at him – CGrand is about a $6-8mil value at this point…and that may be stretching a bit.

  20. Frank says:

    No way on Hughes. He’s a 2 pitch pitcher and his second pitch (whatever it is) isn’t all that great. He may get ahead of hitters by throwing first pitch strikes, but he also fails to put these hitters away; thus,his pitch count is typically at 100 by the 5th inning.

    No problem with Grandy for 1 year on a QO, but nothing more.

  21. Matt DiBari says:

    A team on a budget cannot justify spending 14 million of it on Phil Hughes

  22. Slu says:

    I don’t understand how anyone who watched Hughes pitch the last two years could be for offering him the QO. He is dreadful. I seriously don’t want Phil back for $1MM let alone $14MM.

    • Mister D says:

      Because a QO isn’t a simple “yes I want him” or “no I don’t” decision. It can be a strategic “we believe there is a 20% (?) chance he’ll accept so its a worthwhile gamble” decision/

      • bg90027 says:

        Sure in theory, but it’s delusional to think that there is only a 20% chance he’d accept. Teams are very reluctant to sign even good but not elite free agents subject to a qualifying offer. Look how hard Kyle Lohse found it last year. He signed so late that he missed all of spring training, and he was coming off a year in which he finished 7th in the NL Cy Young voting.

        He might want a new start somewhere else in less of a flyball park but he’s only 27 and taking the qualifying offer would double his career earnings. Even if he stunk it up again in NY, he’d be set for life financially, and could look to rebuild value on a low guarantee contract somewhere else at age 28. I can’t picture him turning that down.

        It would be a stupid gamble for NY to offer it to Hughes in any year but there’s no chance they do it in a year they are trying to get under $189.

  23. Jerome S. says:

    I’m kind of interested in seeing how Hughes would fare on a different team. Being a Yankee can be hard for a pitcher, considering both the dimensions of the home stadium and the capabilities of opposing teams. One of Hughes’ chief problems has always been the fly ball, which is further exacerbated by Yankee Stadium. I hope he finds his way into a more pitcher-friendly park in a more… relaxed, shall we say, division. Perhaps there he can at least be an above-average starter.

  24. FL1234 says:

    Hughes isn’t on the fence. He can’t even see the fence from where he is right now. If they didn’t offer Abreu or Damon arbitration, why in the world would you think they would even consider giving Hughes a QO? You simply can’t risk he accepts, period.

  25. Dick M says:

    I’m in the yes to Grandy and no to Hughes camp.

    Grandy’s a run producer and he’s a better fielder than he is given credit for. He’s a serviceable CF and is a plus in a corner. He, Soriano and Gardner is an outfield you can win with.

    Hughes just isn’t worth the money to US. And I agree with the poster who posits that he might find himself once he gets around a good coach and away from NY.

    I’ve been thinking about next year. Give me the OF mentioned above. The IF is Tex, Cano, Jeter and Arod with Brendan Ryan re-signed as Jeter’s caddie and future SS and a youngish guy who won’t break down (Danny Valencia type) as ARod’s caddie under the assumption he gets only a 50 games suspension. Go with the kids at catcher. Then buy 2 starters — the Japanese kid and maybe Garza.

  26. Mickey Scheister says:

    I’m really surprised how many people think Hughes should get a QO, absolutely NOT. It’s a no brainier, he would totally take 14.1MM instead of signing a theoretical 3/21 and hope to actually not suck while getting vastly over paid for something a AAA arm could supply, a 5+ ERA. The Timmy comps are way off IMO, Hughes never came close to the success Lincecum had, Hughes has been wildly inconsistent at best and Timmy has been remarkable as short as two years ago and just recently started to suck. Yes on Curtis. NO on Phil.

  27. fin says:

    Look up anything Fin has ever said. The thought of QO for Phil is crazy. He has never been, in his career, a pitcher worth anything over 7m. No ONE WAS ever going to give him a QO payday. Even before he turned back into who he is, he was never good enough for a QO. Mike was the only person who ever thought, early in the season, that he could be a QO guy.

    Mike knows more about prospects than we do and he falls harder. The thought of Phil ever getting a QO, taking this season out, is nuts. Even when Phil was below average, you will still see Mike saying that he was a candidate for QO. Wasn’t till the second half that Mike gave up on that shit. Should have gave up on that years ago.

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