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Curtis Granderson Rumors
The Rangers contacted the Yankees earlier this season about the possibility of trading Robinson Cano, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reports. Talks went nowhere as the Yankees simply said that Cano was unavailable. The Rangers' interest, however, places them atop Marchand's list of the nine teams who could land Cano in free agency this winter. Cano's presence would crowd a middle infield situation that already includes Jurickson Profar fighting for playing time with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, though one scout told Marchand that Texas could move Kinsler to first base.
Here are some more items from the Bronx…
- The Dodgers, Phillies, Mariners, Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, Mets and the "mystery team" round out Marchand's list. The Dodgers are reportedly not planning to bid on Cano this winter but one official tells Marchand "I'll believe it when I see it." Another official noted that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro likes to be "creative," so he could try to sign Cano and move Chase Utley to third.
- Curtis Granderson's agent, Matt Brown, tells Dan Martin of the New York Post that the Yankees are his client's "first choice" and that "he absolutely wants to stay" in New York. Brown admitted that Granderson's injury-shortened 2013 season could impact his next contract "but I think people remember what he did the previous two years.”
- Scouts tell Martin that Granderson isn't considered an injury risk going forward (his broken and forearm and fractured pinkie were both caused when he was hit by pitches) and there is speculation that the Rangers or Red Sox could be interested in Granderson's services. One scout wonders how Granderson will fare away from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium while other expected Granderson should find a big contract given the lack of power bats on the open market.
- An AL scout who saw Michael Pineda pitch three times this year described the right-hander as a "back-end" starter, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. "He progressed and his arm strength improved, but he still had unreliable command and mechanics," the scout said. Pineda averaged a 94.7 mph fastball with the Mariners in 2011 but the scout clocked him at between 91-93 mph in the minors. Pineda has yet to throw a Major League pitch for the Yankees since he was acquired in January 2012. He missed the entire 2012 season due to shoulder surgery and was limited to 10 minor league starts in 2013, though he posted a 3.32 ERA, 2.93 K/BB and 9.1 K/9 over those starts.
- Earlier today, we collected the latest rumors about Joe Girardi's managerial future.
Mariano Rivera could receive one more retirement present in the form of a long-awaited appearance in center field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) that he could give the closer an inning of work in center during the season-ending series this weekend in Houston, which also mark the final three games of Rivera's legendary career. Rivera has said he will take the defensive assignment only if he feels physically up to the task. "If I cannot do it, I will not be making a fool of myself there," Rivera said. "I'm a professional. This is not a joke. This is serious, this is business."
Here are some more items out of the Bronx…
- Curtis Granderson's preference would be to remain with the Yankees but he's looking forward to his first taste of free agency, the outfielder tells The Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty. MLBTR's Steve Adams recently profiled what Granderson could claim on the open market this winter.
- Going into what could be his last home game in Yankee Stadium, Robinson Cano told reporters (including Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York) that he planned to take a long break after the season and then think about his future. As Matthews notes, this likely means the Yankees won't be able to extend Cano during their exclusivity period following the World Series. Cano also didn't say if he would require the Yankees to commit to making other free agent signings this winter before re-signing with them.
- Earlier today, it was reported that Cano was seeking a ten-year contract worth at least $305MM. He has already rejected two extension offers from the Yankees worth $138MM over eight years and between $161MM-$168MM over seven years.
- Alex Rodriguez "absolutely" expects to finish his career as a Yankee in 2017 after playing out the rest of his contract, he told Newsday's Steven Marcus. "I'm looking forward to that….I've shown myself that there's a lot left in the tank — and I have a lot to prove," Rodriguez said.
- It might not be for 211 games, but Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog figures Rodriguez will face some kind of PED suspension, and Axisa looks at how the Yankees would be affected if Rodriguez had to miss 50, 100 or 150+ games.
A pair of broken bones isn't something any impending free agent wants to endure in a contract year, but that's what Curtis Granderson is attempting to overcome. After a pair of 40-homer campaigns from 2011-12, Granderson was hit by a pitch in his first Spring Training plate appearance in 2013. X-rays would reveal a fractured forearm that wound up causing the Grandy Man to sit out the first six weeks of the year.
As if that wasn't enough poor luck for the former Tiger, he was struck in the left hand by a pitch from Rays reliever Cesar Ramos on May 24 in just his eighth game of the season. Granderson stayed in the game briefly, but that would be his last contest until Aug. 2, as he had suffered a broken metacarpal that required surgery. After missing about two-thirds of the season, Granderson will hit the open market as a free agent.
The first thing that comes to mind with Granderson is power. After averaging 24 homers per season from 2006-10, Granderson exploded with a 41-homer campaign in his second season with the Yankees. He followed that up with 43 long balls in 2012. While many will point to Yankee Stadium as the reason for his surge in power, it wasn't all the ballpark. Granderson belted 47 homers at Yankee Stadium in 2011-12 but still went deep 37 times on the road. No one in baseball had more home runs from 2011-12 than Granderson, and his 30 homers against lefties in that span were also the most in baseball.
He's capable of playing all three outfield positions as a result of his good speed, though advanced defensive metrics soured on him in 2012. UZR and The Fielding Bible both like his glove-work in this season's limited sample size, however, and he grades out as a positive defender for his career per both metrics.
That speed also comes through on the basepaths. Granderson is still a threat for double-digit stolen bases. He's swiped seven bags in 55 games this season and is just stole 25 as recently as 2011. According to Fangraphs, he's never had a full season in which his baserunning has cost his team runs, and he's been worth 28 runs above average on the basepaths over the course of his career (he's at +1.3 this season).
Granderson is also patient; he's walked in 11 percent of his plate appearances dating back to the 2008 season. His blend of patience and power allows a manager to bat him anywhere in the lineup. While he's missed time with injury this season, both were freak accidents. From 2006-12, Granderson was a picture of durability, averaging 153 games per season.
Granderson hit .302 in 2007 and backed it up with a .280 season, but don't confuse him for a player that's going to hit for a high average. From 2009-13, Granderson has batted .247 due to a strikeout rate that has continued to rise. At this point, it's fair to expect him to whiff in roughly a quarter of his trips to the plate.
His best year at the plate came in 2011, when Granderson was able to post an OPS north of .900 against both lefties and righties, but he's often struggled to hit for average and get on base against left-handed pitching. In 2012, Granderson hit just .218/.304/.458 against southpaws. He's been better in a small sample size this season, but he's never shown a prolonged ability to hit lefties over multiple seasons.
Granderson is also on the wrong side of his prime. He'll turn 33 next March, so any team that pays him on a multi-year deal could fall victim to the dreaded "pay for the prime, get the decline" scenario. His isolated power peaked at .290 in 2011, dropped to .260 last season and is currently at .188. That's still a strong number but could be a portent for a power outage in the near future.
Granderson has a big personality and is friendly toward fans, teammates and the media. His parents are both retired teachers, which is one of the reasons that he is so dedicated to education. Granderson finished the final two years of his degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago while playing in the Tigers organization. He also founded the Grand Kids Foundation in 2008 — a foundation aimed to increase educational and youth baseball opportunities for inner-city children. He's very active elsewhere within the community as well, having participated in programs such as Play Baseball Detroit and Tigers Dreams Come True. He is widely regarded as one of the most amiable players in the game.
Granderson's track record is strong enough that he will likely receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees, and he has a case for a multiyear deal elsewhere even if he rejects that offer. His power and magnetic personality will appeal to all teams, and the latter will be particularly appealing to large market teams with aggressive media. Granderson is a native of the Chicago area and has enjoyed his time in New York, though he hasn't necessarily indicated a geographic preference.
It's tough to pin down Granderson's free agent value. Had he enjoyed a healthy season similar to 2011-12, he'd be in line for at least a four-year deal. Agent Matt Brown of Pro Prospects Inc. can emphasize the point that his two injuries were freak accidents, but teams won't simply ignore the fact that Granderson will end up having played in roughly 60 games this season.
It only takes one team to push him to a four-year guarantee, so it's not out of the question. Any team that is willing to guarantee a fourth year and sign him for Nick Swisher money — four years and $56MM — would likely be able to land Granderson. However, I'm predicting that Granderson will sign a three-year, $45MM contract this offseason, perhaps with an option that could bring him to that fourth year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Mariano Rivera took home MVP honors in last night's All-Star Game victory after tossing a perfect eighth inning. Manager Jim Leyland told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that he wanted to ensure Rivera got into the game. If the NL took the lead in the bottom of the eighth against a different pitcher, there might not have been a bottom of the ninth to pitch. Leyland also joked, "I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive." Rivera's moment was an instant classic; his teammates allowed him to take the field all alone to "Enter Sandman" as he received a standing ovation from the fans and both dugouts (video link courtesy of MLB.com). Here's more on the Yankees…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with a prominent agent and two front office executives that said Curtis Granderson's injuries make him more likely to remain with the Yankees beyond 2013. Each said Granderson wouldn't top his $15MM annual salary on the open market, and he could accept a one-year qualifying offer (roughly $13.8MM) to re-establish value. It could also give the Yanks a shot to sign him to a four-year deal similar to Nick Swisher deal with Cleveland this offseason.
- The Yankees haven't been able to find an acceptable return in trade discussions for Phil Hughes, who will become a free agent after this season, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. The Dodgers were a potential fit for Hughes, but they're no longer on the hunt for a mid-rotation starter after acquiring Ricky Nolasco. The Giants and Padres probably shouldn't be considered active buyers at this point because of recent poor play, Heyman says.
- Heyman adds that the Angels have long been interested in Hughes, nearly drafting him in 2004 before owner Arte Moreno insisted the team select Jered Weaver. However, given the Halos' current record, they don't appear to be buyers.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new article discussing All-Stars, some of the game's top young hitters and a plethora of hot stove info. Here are some highlights…
- Rival executives around the league are critical of the Mariners for rushing their top prospects, but Rosenthal notes that Nick Franklin has been more than up to the challenge, and Brad Miller earned his promotion with his minor league performance. Regarding the struggling Mike Zunino, GM Jack Zduriencik told Rosenthal: "We planned all along to get Mike to Seattle at some point in July … He wasn't expected to be a big contributor offensively if it was now, July, September … but he has held his own, and what he is receiving now will set him up for 2014 and beyond."
- Multiple scouts have questioned the work ethic of the Brewers' players, with one telling Rosenthal "there's a lot of quit on that team." Rosenthal writes that it isn't manager Ron Roenicke's fault that Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have been injured, but the negative reports could be an "ominous sign" for Roenicke. Rosenthal tweets a correction, noting that Roenicke is signed through 2014, not through 2013 as he initially reported.
- The Yankees aren't planning a fire sale, but if they did, they'd have some of the most attractive trade chips in the game. The Yankees could part with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, however, and Rosenthal adds Curtis Granderson's name to the mix, assuming the injured outfielder gets healthy in time.
- The Rays aren't looking to add a starting pitcher with both David Price and Alex Cobb likely to return in the near future. If the Rays make any moves at all, they'll be for impact players regardless of position.
- The Cubs are "all but certain" to trade pending free agents Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and Scott Feldman, but they're not in a rush to deal Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, both of whom are controlled beyond 2013.
The Yankees and Dodgers have far and away the game's highest Opening Day payrolls, but have had polar opposite results thus far. While the Yanks were supposed to be the team that failed to deliver performance commensurate with its big spending, they sit atop the AL East with a robust 29-18 record. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are buried seven games back in the basement of the NL West, sporting a 19-27 mark after a listless showing against the Cardinals last night at Dodger Stadium. Let's take a look at the latest on these clubs:
- It has been a comedy of injuries this year for the Yankees, with a steady flow of DL stints nevertheless failing to slow the team's winning ways. Last night brought more of the same, as two key players — outfielder Curtis Granderson and starter David Phelps — left the team's 9-4 drubbing of the Rays. MLB.com's Bryan Hoch had the story. Phelps, who was hit on the arm by a come-backer, appears to have escaped significant injury and is expected to make his next scheduled start. Granderson was not so lucky. After suffering a broken forearm on a hit-by-pitch during Spring Training, causing him to miss the first month and a half of the year, Granderson only logged 31 big league plate appearances before being struck by another inside pitch. This time, the ball broke a knuckle on his left hand. The preliminary word is that he will miss a minimum of four weeks. The path to a substantial free agent pay day is now murkier for the big left-handed bat, who is set to hit the market after the season. It seems unlikely, at this point, that Granderson will have more than half of a season of performance in his walk year. While he has been a consistent home run and stolen base threat for much of his career, teams will certainly watch closely to see whether his arm and hand injuries sap his power as he finishes off his age-32 season.
- For the Yankees, the loss of Granderson appears unlikely to warrant an immediate look outside the organization. As Hoch tweeted yesterday evening, and confirmed today, the club will call up outfielder Brennan Boesch. The Yanks nabbed Boesch late in the spring due in part to the fact that he still had an option year. He saw 45 unremarkable plate appearances early in the season, slashing .209/.244/.419, but was optioned in mid-May and has struggled to a .179/.343/.214 slash in limited action at Triple-A.
- A swirl of news around a manager is generally not a good thing, and that is certainly the case with the Dodgers' Don Mattingly. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times explains that, with Mattingly taking on an increasingly combative persona, the skipper may be going down with a fight, but seems to be going down nonetheless. Team president Stan Kasten, along with GM Ned Colletti, expressed agreement with Mattingly's attempts to light a fire under the team. And Kasten did say that Mattingly's job was not at risk. But he also made clear that it would be if the team can't reverse its fortunes: "I do expect us to turn it around, and because of that, I expect Donnie to be here for a long time. There's another side of that, if things don't go well."
- Meanwhile, internal discord seemingly failed to die down after Mattingly recently called out highly-paid outfielder Andre Ethier. While Ethier expressed surprise and hurt at the public questioning of his effort and toughness, and said he had not even discussed the issue with Mattingly, the manager continued to see things differently. "Guys who play the game right, they don't have any problem with anything I'm saying," said Mattingly. "So I can't even come close to backing off things I said the other day. I feel exactly that way." But was Ethier right that the manager had not even talked about his comments with the player? "I'm getting old and my memory is going, but we definitely talked." Needless to say, this public feud only further reduces L.A.'s leverage should it look to move Ethier's big contract and so-far sluggish bat.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner commented on contract talks with second baseman Robinson Cano to David Lennon of Newsday on his way out of the MLB owners meetings today in Manhattan, saying, "We've had several conversations with [agent] Brodie [Van Wagenen], just as we did with [former agent] Scott [Boras] and a lot of it is procedural. But we're going to continue in the weeks to come to work through things and try to come to an agreement." Steinbrenner later added, "We want him to end his career here." Cano has sat atop our 2014 Free Agents Power Rankings since the beginning. More on the Yankees:
- Can a team with a $228MM payroll earn the designation "scrappy?" Steinbrenner used that adjective, expressing admiration for the Yankees' young players and cheap veterans that have allowed them to successfully weather injuries to key players so far. As for getting below the $189MM luxury tax threshold next year, Steinbrenner said, "The math works to me if the young kids do their job. It has to happen. And I've been saying that for over a year now — that's the goal we're going to push for. But again, I'll reiterate what I always reiterate, which is we're always going to field a championship-caliber team. That's what the fans expect. That's what we expect. It's going to happen. Not going to win every year. Nobody ever does. But we're going to do what we can to field the best team we can."
- "We're going to sit down and figure out what to do when this season ends, hopefully the beginning of November," said Steinbrenner in regard to manager Joe Girardi and his expiring contract.
- Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch says he left his agent, Scott Boras, and returned to his old agent, Van Wagenen of CAA, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times on May 1st. Boesch will be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season and can hit the open market after the 2015 season. Stay on top of the representation for over 1,000 players with MLBTR's agency database.
- "He’s a good guy and I think he can be a really good player, too. He’ll be back. I just wanted to let him know that it’s up to him," Yankees infielder Jayson Nix told Waldstein, recounting a conversation with the recently-designated Chris Nelson.
- The shift from center to left field shouldn't damage Curtis Granderson's free agent value much, opined multiple executives in speaking with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Granderson isn't concerned, saying, "Not an issue for me at all. Just want to help this team in any way I can. If they need me to go back to shortstop like I did in high school, I’ll do that."
The Yankees lost Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks over the weekend when he was hit on the forearm by a pitch in his first at-bat of Spring Training and suffered a fracture. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined ways in which the Yankees could replace Granderson in the short-term yesterday, and here's some more on the matter from the New York media…
- Missing significant time due to an injury will hurt Granderson's upcoming free agent stock, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, Granderson's impending shift to left field likely would have done the same. Any lack of power stemming from his forearm injury could be very detrimental to his stock. Granderson recently just missed out on the Top 10 in Dierkes' Free Agent Power Rankings.
- From that same piece, Sherman writes to keep an eye on Adonis Garcia, who signed with the Yanks for $400K last season. The 27-year-old Cuban import hit .263/.311/.424 in 57 games between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season and has impressed the Yankees with his performance in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- Sherman also writes that Cubs officials he spoke with don't get the sense that the Yankees will be interested in Alfonso Soriano given the relatively small amount of time Granderson will miss. He goes on to speculate that that line of thinking also eliminates Jason Kubel or one of the Athletics' surplus outfielders from the equation.
- Johnny Damon appeared with Michael Kay on ESPN radio in New York and told Kay that he would welcome the chance to play with the Yankees in replacement of Granderson, even if the team sent him on his way upon Granderson's return (Andrew Marchand of ESPN with the write-up).
- Meanwhile, Damon told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that while he would definitely welcome the opportunity, he doesn't anticipate that the Yankees will have interest.
After Brian Sabean traded Matt Williams to the Indians for a package that included eventual San Francisco cornerstone Jeff Kent, the public reaction against the newly minted Giants general manager was so strong that he felt compelled to declare: “I’m not an idiot.” Sixteen years later, with two World Championships under Sabean’s belt, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes that he “has proven that, emphatically.” Sabean still abides by the credo he adopted while working for George Steinbrenner: “keep your head down and do your job.” Here are some notes on teams hoping to dethrone Mr. Sabean’s Giants in 2013:
- Having agreed yesterday to a minor league contract with the Pirates, 41-year-old reliever Jose Contreras reported to camp quickly with plans to take it slow, says Tom Singer of MLB.com. Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and having just returned from his first visit to his native Cuba since defecting over a decade ago, Contreras said that the Pirates instructed him “to take my time and recover at my own rate.” Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, for whom the signing was a “low-risk” gambit to bolster the club’s bullpen, stated that Contreras would “rehab throughout Spring Training” and that the team would “be patient with him and get him back as quickly as his body allows.”
- The Indians have set up a three-way competition for the last spot in the team’s starting rotation, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are attempting comebacks, will compete with recently-acquired prospect Trevor Bauer. All three pitchers appeared in today’s Cactus League game. While MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk maintains that Kyle Lohse could fit nicely in the Tribe's rotation, the team seems likely to utilize one of the options it already has on hand.
- With Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis likely out for more than six weeks with a fractured collarbone, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the club’s search for a new second backstop behind presumed starter Rob Brantly. In addition to considering internal options like Kyle Skipworth, “the club is combing through other rosters, exploring possible trade options and trying to figure out which teams have a surplus.”
- Other than Sabean, only one current GM has overseen multiple championship clubs: the Yankees’ Brian Cashman. Cashman revealed today that, contrary to his previously stated belief, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is in fact out of options, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. MLBTR has labeled Cervelli as out of options from the start; check out our full list of players here. Of the three primary catchers competing to break camp with the Yankees, then, only Austin Romine can still be optioned. (Chris Stewart, like Cervelli, has had his options exhausted.) When asked to comment on the catching situation, Cashman wryly reported: “We’ve got two guys out of options and one guy with an option. I think the two guys are winning.”
- Of more immediate concern to Cashman and the Yankees, of course, is the injury to outfielder Curtis Granderson. In addition to the analysis of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, other commentators have begun to weigh in. Bill Madden of The New York Daily News explores the options for replacing Granderson and worries that the club could face a power shortage. MLB.com’s Richard Justice opines that Cashman should stick to his winning strategy of “being smart and efficient” and “not overreacting to every crisis.” For FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, on the other hand, the injury “exposed the Yankees’ flawed roster construction” and leaves the club’s 2013 postseason prospects in doubt.
A J.A. Happ fastball struck Curtis Granderson's right forearm today in a Spring Training game, which will knock the Yankees' projected left fielder out until May. GM Brian Cashman intends to look at all possibilities, but of course the team will start by considering in-house corner outfielders such as Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera. YES Network's Jack Curry tweets a reality check: the Yankees' plan to replace Granderson will be made with the expectation that he's likely to miss 30 games, not the entire season.
That's why a relatively complicated deal for veterans such as Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells seems unlikely. Both players were quizzed by reporters today nonetheless, and both professed a desire to win with their current teams. Regarding Soriano, Cubs president Theo Epstein told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, "If we can get him to a winner and get a good package back we'd consider it. We haven't even been tempted yet. He's a valuable guy here. He's more valuable to us than anything we've been offered…by far."
A couple of ex-Yankees continue to toil in free agency: Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu. Scott Podsednik is available as well. They'd all be candidates for minor league deals, so the risk is minimal if Cashman wants to add some depth.
Out of options players are worth considering as well. A few notable outfielders on that list include Jordan Schafer, Ezequiel Carrera, Casper Wells, Gorkys Hernandez, Jose Tabata, Julio Borbon, and Xavier Paul. Tabata, a former Yankees farmhand, has $12.75MM in guaranteed money left on his contract, so the Pirates would have to be looking to cut bait and assume the vast majority. If not Hernandez, the Marlins might be able to spare former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. The Diamondbacks recently added speedster Tony Campana to a crowded outfield, and perhaps Cashman will give Kevin Towers a call. Dewayne Wise, Scott Cousins, Eric Thames, Aaron Cunningham, Austin Kearns, Darnell McDonald, Felix Pie, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Travis Buck are some other outfielders fighting for jobs who could become available as camp progresses.
Cashman is in a tricky spot. Anyone who represents a clear upgrade over the team's internal options might come with a decent acquisition cost, which wouldn't make sense if Granderson will be out for one month. The best strategy might be to make a couple of low-risk acquisitions to give manager Joe Girardi additional options.