The Yankees lost quite a bit of offense this offseason and will be without Alex Rodriguez for at least the first two months of next season. The offseason isn’t over, but Brian Cashman has a tough job ahead of him in filling four positions on a limited budget.
Perhaps instead of looking to replace the bats that are gone the Yankees should instead consider run prevention possibilities. I’m talking about trading Curtis Granderson and using the money they save there and use it to sign Michael Bourn.
The move will give the Yankees a younger, more long term solution in center field while taking one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball and replacing him with one of the best. And they can do it without spending any extra money.
The question is — would Bourn’s defensive upgrade make up for the offensive drop off? Is there that much of an offensive drop off? Let’s compare the two players to find out which is the better one overall:
AGE: Granderson will be 32-years-old to start this season while Bourn will be 30.
DEFENSE: Bourn also blows Granderson away defensively. In his career Bourn’s UZR numbers are Gardner-ian with 22.4 UZR in 2012 and a 19.4 UZR in 2010. He did have a negative-6.4 UZR in 2011, but it was the lone blip in a career with a overall 54.7 UZR.
SPEED: Bourn also brings a Gardner-esq speed on the bases. He stole 42 bases last year and has averaged over 45 stolen bases per year in his career. Meanwhile, Granderson’s running game has deteriorated to the point where he stole just 10 bases last year. Granderson was never as fast anyway as he only ever stole 26 bases in any season.
AVERAGE: Bourn hits for a better average than Granderson with a career .272 mark against Granderson’s .262. What’s worse is Granderson’s average has trended down since he hit .302 in 2007. There was one blip in 2011, when Granderson managed to hit .262, but overall he has been a .254 hitter in the past five years bottoming out at .232 last season.
PATIENCE: Granderson has more patience, but because he hits a little better their OBP’s have been similar with Bourn at .339 throughout his career and Granderson at .341. Bourn’s biggest weakness, a 22 K%, is not even as bad as Granderson’s 28.5 K%. This one is pretty even.
POWER: This is the only area Bourn trails Granderson. Bourn’s 10 triples, 26 doubles, and career high nine home runs just don’t add up to Granderson’s 43 homers and 18 doubles. Granderson has become quite an all or nothing player though and his .492 slugging percentage last season was the 3rd lowest in the history of MLB for players with at least 40 homers in a season. Still, Bourn just doesn’t stack up as even his career high .391 slugging percentage still trails Granderson’s worst.
MONEY: Granderson is set to make $15 million this season. He’s going to want at least that per year for four or five years as a free agent and based on his regression last season the Yankees probably won’t want to keep him at that price. Bourn is expected to make about same which is comparable to the five-year, $75 million that B.J. Upton got from the Braves. Bourn is probably the best of all three of those outfielders, younger than Granderson, and leverage against Robinson Cano in contract talks.
OVERALL: Except in the power department Bourn is better in every way than Granderson. Defensively alone there is a 40.2 point swing in UZR which represents about four wins. If they flanked him with Brett Gardner in left and Ichiro Suzuki in right that might be the best defensive outfield in the history of baseball. On top of that he’s an upgrade on the bases, which was a major problem for the Yankees last year, and a better hitter for average with similar on base skills.
If the Yankees managed to both sign Bourn and trade Granderson, even just a straight salary dump, they would lose some power, but still have a good hitter, a better base runner, and a superb defender. The increase in defense might make up for the drop off the lineup will no doubt experience without A-Rod, Russell Martin, and Nick Swisher. And they could do it without increasing the payroll.