Nelson Cruz has informed the Rangers that he has rejected their qualifying offer. The Yankees are still waiting to hear from Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson. Although there seems to be at least some chance Kuroda will accept, most of the attention is on Curtis Granderson and the possibility of him taking the one-year, $14.1 million offer. A few thoughts on the Granderson situation…
Three reasons I’m expecting Granderson to turn down the qualifying offer (and I’m obviously not alone).
• He turns 33 in March. The idea behind a one-year deal would be to reestablish value for next winter, but at that point Granderson, will be well on his way to his 34th birthday. Even after the injuries, this winter might be the best chance for Granderson to cash in on a big, multi-year deal.
• He can play center field. Just because the Yankees seem to be looking at Granderson as a right fielder, that doesn’t mean other teams are similarly limited. Granderson’s power bat coming from a center fielder creates significant value. Unless you buy into Shin-Soo Choo as a center fielder, then Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury are easily the best center fielders on the market.
• He picked a good time to become a free agent. If that Tim Lincecum signing was an indication of things to come, then teams are ready and willing to spend big money this winter. Reports certainly suggest that’s the case. Not sure one year, $14.1 million is going to be hard for Granderson to match this offseason.
Three ways Granderson’s free agency would impact the Yankees.
• They need power. This can’t be overlooked. Even if Robinson Cano ultimately comes back, the Yankees would still have just Cano, Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano as proven power hitters. Granderson would help that, and losing him would leave that as a significant void to be filling from one position or another.
• They need a right fielder. Technically, the Yankees have a platoon in place, but Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells leave plenty of room for an upgrade. The good new for the Yankees is that right field is a relatively easy position to fill, including a handful of free agent options this winter.
• They’ll probably have to go long-term. Part of the team appeal of a qualifying offer is that it’s only a one-year commitment. To get a Granderson-level hitter on the open market likely means a multi-year deal, either by signing a free agent or trading for a veteran who’s already signed to a contract beyond 2014.
Three ways Granderson would impact the Yankees with a surprise acceptance.
• It would take them re-think the outfield market. With Granderson, Soriano and Brett Gardner, the Yankees regular outfield would be full, and they’d have Ichiro and Wells to play off the bench. Even with an open DH spot, wouldn’t it make far more sense to fill that void with a corner infielder rather than an outfielder?
• It would put a new sort of importance on upper-level outfielders. Consider this: If Granderson were back on a one-year deal, then the Yankees would have five outfielders set to become free agents next winter. Five! Hard to fill that many openings without getting at least some value from the farm system. Tyler Austin. Slade Heathcott. Zoilo Almonte. Someone would need to emerge.
• It just might push back the $189 million plan. Far from a sure thing, but this much is obvious: A one-year deal with Granderson would mean taking his salary off the books next winter. If that one-year deal were coupled with Alex Rodriguez winning his suspension appeal, then it might make far more sense to try cutting salary next winter instead of this winter. Again, though, the Yankees would need some internal help to make it work.
Associated Press photo