The Grandyman Can: The Yankees need to re-sign Granderson

Curtis Granderson is annoying.  As a man, he seems like one of the nicest, most well spoken guys in the league.  But as a baseball player, he’s more frustrating than a blown save or stranding runners in scoring position with less than two outs.

For the last season and a half, Granderson has become an “all or nothing” player at the plate.  This has prompted many fans and beat writers alike to openly discuss whether the Yankees should let Granderson walk once he hits free agency after the 2013 season in order to get under that arbitrary $189 million 2014 budget set by the front office.  (His option for 2013 will certainly be picked up).  I understand the reasons for possibly letting Grandy go after 2013 and at times I even consider joining the “let him walk” camp, but I feel like, barring catastrophic injury or remarkable regression next season, the Yankees should explore resigning Granderson long term, as long as the price isn’t astronomical.

Before we get into the on-field product, let’s look at the most important factor in deciding Granderson’s fate, money.  If Curtis Granderson asks for a lengthy contract at over $20-22 million a season, he’s out of his mind and I won’t lose a minute’s sleep over him skipping town.  We’ve seen teams recently overspend for solid (not superstar) outfielders, only for it to backfire in their face, with Jayson Werth’s 7 year, $126 million dollar deal as a prime example.  But there are plenty of comparable outfielders who have recently signed semi-respectable and realistic deals, like Hunter Pence, Corey Hart and even Ryan Braun.  Braun, steroid scandal aside, is a legitimate superstar who is better than Granderson in every facet of the game with the bat, and his recently signed five year extension has him making an average of $20 million a season.  With the market for sub-superstar outfielders not being as pricey as it is for corner infielders or pitchers, it’s realistic to think that Granderson can be had for something in the neighborhood of five years, $80-85 million, similar to that of Andre Ethier (six years, $95 million).  That possible deal would take Granderson through his age-37 season.  Not young, but not terribly ancient either.  The question then becomes whether or not the Yankees can afford both Granderson and Robinson Cano.

If Granderson signs this hypothetical $16 million per year deal, the Yankees will have $94.5 million tied up in just five players (Grandy, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia).  If the Yankees can sign Cano to something around $20 million per year, that leaves around $85 million to spend on the other 19 men on the roster.  An extremely difficult task that will hopefully be made easier by having Michael Pineda under cheap team control as well as possibly having a few young prospects like David Phelps, Corban Joseph, or maybe even Mason Williams playing for cheap as well.  But there are so many determining factors that have to fall into place before 2014, that it’s almost impossible to speculate.

Now, back to Granderson.

When Curtis Granderson is locked in, there are few players in baseball better than him.  He quite literally owns the second deck in right field and hammers righties and lefties alike.  Over his two and a half seasons with the Yankees, he owns a .252/.344/.510/.854 slash line, more than acceptable for a two hitter who bats behind one of the greatest top of the order hitters of our generation, Derek Jeter, and ahead of arguably the best pure hitter in baseball, Robinson Cano.  Hence, the amount of runs he can drive in and score are plentiful, and Granderson has delivered.  He led the American League in both runs batted in (119) and runs scored (136) in 2011, a rare feat indeed.  He also tripled ten times and swiped 25 bases, good for a fourth place finish in MVP voting.  Granderson has slightly regressed from last year’s amazing year, but he’s still second in the majors in home runs (30), seventh in plate appearances (489), and fourth in runs scored (78).  But arguably his best statistic is his durability, as he’s played in every single game this season except one, and he missed just six last year.  Granderson trotting out to centerfield to begin each ballgame is basically set in stone, and that’s something that’s hard to find either in the minor leagues or the free agent market.  I know sabermetricians and UZR supporters will probably stone me to death for saying this, but Granderson also possesses a solid glove with impressive speed and range in centerfield, and when paired with his bat, he’s someone that would be very hard to replace.  When it comes to 2014 free agency, Jacoby Ellsbury is the only true centerfielder who could be considered on the same level as Curtis Granderson, but if he replicates his MVP type season in 2013, he will absolutely be too expensive for the Yankees if they stay true to their alleged budget.  Corey Hart, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Morse are corner outfielders that will be available and while the Yankees could hypothetically move Brett Gardner (if he’s still on the team) to centerfield, Granderson would seem to be the most logical solution.

While Granderson may not be grand in terms superstardom, he certainly is a run creating machine right in the middle of a very potent lineup.  It remains to be seen how Granderson will perform for the remainder of the season and his following contract year, but if they’re anything like his past year and a half with the Bombers, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to exploring a contract in order to keep him here long term.

Stay tuned for Mark Panuthos’ rebuttal this weekend.

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13 Responses to The Grandyman Can: The Yankees need to re-sign Granderson

  1. I don't think it takes a sabermatrician or a UZR expert to see that Granderson's defense is horrible. You need to open your eyes and see what is in front of you.

    • Gonzalo Hiram says:

      Gardner should play center field and move Granderson.
      Yankees should pick up his 2013 option then for 2014 they should offer him around 13 or whatever it is to get a draft pick if he doesn't take it.

    • Noah Baskin says:

      how is his defense horrible? He makes every catch, controls the outfield, and has a cannon arm. Could be one of the most pathetic things I've heard written. Also I can understand the criticism towards Grandy, believe me but he does need to be more consistent. Do take in mind that he does hit clutch home runs and like someone posted is unstoppable when on a hot streak.

  2. Bryan V says:

    Keep in mind that, according to the rules, if the Yankees pick-up his option for next season and extend him before Opening Day, then his current contract will affect the AAV of his new contract.

    So while it seems that a 5 year deal for $85 million will give the team a player with an AAV of $17 million, if the scenario I mentioned above occurs his contract would basically be 10 years for $126.25 million for an AAV of $12.625 million. I believe Ryan Howard was signed after Opening Day, which led to some being upset that the Phillies cost themselves about $5 million towards the Luxury Tax threshold (not that it mattered, as the team was far enough away).

    The same would go for extending Cano before Opening Day next season, after having picked up his option. Which is why I hope the Yankees take care of the Cano and Granderson things this offseason.

  3. theboogiedown says:

    It is remarkable how many times I have heard or read that Granderson is "well spoken." If he were a white guy that phrase would have never been spoken. Not once.

  4. Steve says:

    Lazy article – the only stats you site are runs, RBI, PA, HR, and MVP voting, while completely disregarding defensive metrics. Then you go on to saying that Granderson seems to be the "most logical solution," without giving a reason why.

  5. uyf1950 says:

    Just my opinion but I think the Yankees should pick up his 2013 option then let him walk. His defense is suspect now and his strike outs are ridiculous. I do not relish the idea of a 36 or especially a 37 year old roaming Center Field for the Yankees. The Yankees need to get younger and give perhaps one of their prospects a shot. Or if need be trade a couple of prospects for a cost controlled outfielder. Like I said just my opinion.

  6. tom says:

    I would love to say goodbye to Granderson but without Swisher and Granderson, Yankees are low on power. I don't expect to count on kids to step up and assume the big roles.

    40 home runs is always nice to have aboard but 170 K is ridiculously high for my liking.

    If Yankees actually lose those power hitters to just meet 189m in 2014 then I expect Yankees find several players with good hitting skills without relying on power.

    • uyf1950 says:

      Heck Tom, Granderson is looking like he's going to strike out about 200 times this season. He's already struck out 138 times in 111 games. with 51 games left 200 K's is not out of the question.

  7. uyf1950 says:

    Just my opinion but I think the Yankees should pick up his 2013 option then let him walk. His defense is suspect now and his strike outs are ridiculous. I do not relish the idea of a 36 or especially a 37 year old roaming Center Field for the Yankees. The Yankees need to get younger and give perhaps one of their prospects a shot. Or if need be trade a couple of prospects for a cost controlled outfielder. Like I said just my opinion.

    • uyf1950 says:

      Sorry about that. Not exactly sure what happened. But I posted the exact same comment as the one about several hours ago. Again, my apologies.

  8. djpostl says:

    The entire piece operates on the misguided notion that the Yankees intend to stay below the luxury cap threshold for more than 2014. They don't.

    They just need to get below it one time in order to "reset" the luxury tax % they are on the hook for each year. That act alone saves then 25-30 million the first year, then declines each year that they go above the threshold.

    The strategy is to go below, be above for 3-4 years, go below to reset the % and so on.

    All they need to do is get below it, reset it, then be very creative (and advance planning) to make this happen so a run at Ellsburry (or whomever they desire down the road) is very doable.