Curtis Granderson hits a lot of home runs, but he also strikes out a lot. He can play center field, but so can Brett Gardner. He’s a valuable player for the time being, but he’s a year away from free agency. His current contract is affordable, but he’s likely to generate huge money on the open market.
For every reason to keep Granderson, there seems to at least one reason to trade him, and given the Yankees financial desires going forward, there’s a lot of logic to the idea of getting something of value for him right now rather than lose him for nothing more than a draft pick next winter.
Here’s the problem: What are the Yankees going to get in return?
Two things to consider:
1. One year of Granderson is valuable only to a team that thinks it can contend this season.
2. Losing Granderson would require that the Yankees replace his offensive value in the short-term.
That makes a good match hard to find.
A team that has two productive, everyday catchers and a need for additional home run power might be a good match, but where is that team? The Rangers don’t have impact catching to spare. Neither do the Rays. The Orioles aren’t giving up Matt Wieters. The Cardinals aren’t giving up Yadier Molina. The Giants aren’t giving up Buster Posey.
What else could the Yankees look for in return? We already know that third base is remarkably thin throughout baseball right now. Hard to believe a contending team would give up an impact starter. The Reds gave up a young shortstop and a big league center fielder for one year of Shin-Soo Choo, but the big leaguer is more of a platoon player and the shortstop hit .243 in Triple-A (plus it took a three-team deal to make it happen).
Even if the Yankees did find a team willing to give significant prospects for Granderson, how would the Yankees replace Granderson’s offense in the short term? Trade those same prospects for different one-year contract? I don’t really buy into the notion that the Yankees should have traded Granderson for prospects, then signed Josh Hamilton to fill Granderson’s offensive hole. Too much risk in Hamilton for my taste, and such a deal would effectively wipe out any chance of re-signing Robinson Cano, who I think is a better bet to perform going forward.
I’m not saying the Yankees couldn’t trade Granderson — not even saying they shouldn’t trade Granderson — just pointing out that it’s far more complicated than simply pointing to his strikeout totals and the final year of his contract and saying the Yankees should deal him. Making such a trade work – and getting both short-term and long-term value in return — would be difficult, and might be impossible in this market.
Associated Press photo