Free Agent Pass or Play: Curtis Granderson – Phillies Nation

Free Agent Pass or Play: Curtis Granderson day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with left-handed center fielder Curtis Granderson. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.


Granderson is coming off a six-year, $43.25 million contract signed prior to the 2008 season. During that time, Granderson provided roughly $91.1 million to his teams according to FanGraphs. Granderson led the American League in runs scored and RBIs in 2011, finishing fourth in MVP voting but is coming off two straight seasons of on-base percentages of .319 or lower. Since 2009, Granderson’s strikeout rate has increased every year, including a career-high in a season with at least 200 PA 28.2% K-rate.

Granderson, as a player, is nearly tailor-made for Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. His left-handed, feast-or-famine approach has rewarded him in the House that George Built, hitting 40+ homers in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012. Granderson fractured his forearm in the first game of Spring Training in 2013 and then subsequently missed more time with a fractured pinkie. Granderson, when healthy, is a frequent threat for 30 homers and 15 steals a year, but his high strikeout rates (23.1% career) and low on-base percentage (.340) are worrisome to a team looking at the 32-year old outfielder.


Granderson’s fit is questionable. Granderson is another lefty in what is shaping to be a lefty-filled line-up. He is also a center fielder in a line-up with a young, incumbent center fielder, Ben Revere. If Granderson was added, and Revere not traded, Revere could be a plus defender in left field, much like he was for 2012 for the Twins. In this regard, this move works. Otherwise, the fit is iffy.

Around three quarters of Granderson’s PA have been against righties, who he hits at a .274/.357/.519 rate, 60-100 points higher than his triple-slash against lefties.


FanGraphs’ crowd-sourcing project projects Granderson to receive a three to four deal for between $12.5 and $14 million per year. This could fit into the Phillies budget and keep them under the luxury tax of $189 million but would give them a little wiggle room to sign another impact player (~$159 million after letting Chooch and Doc walk, about $16 (10-11%) in organizational costs that go toward luxury tax).


Granderson will likely be offered a Qualifying Offer of around $14 million a year by the Yankees and is expected to decline. Granderson told the New York Post he would like to re-sign with the Yankees but ammended his statements with “this is a business“. Granderson is frequently ranked among the Top 10 Free Agents available this offseason.

Verdict: Pass

I don’t believe in Granderson’s ability to be 40 home run threat outside of Yankee Stadium, even in the ballpark that was the easiest to hit home runs in 2013.  Granderson will be 33 by Opening Day, which means the Phillies could start 2018 with a 38-year old center fielder making $14+ million a year on the roster if they play their cards wrong. No thank you.



  1. Joe

    November 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    You think chooch will walk? I’d keep him if possible, he’s good with our pitchers and IMO can still hit. I’d like to see him under ryne and bowa in the dugout, bowa brings that spark ryne doesn’t have and hopefully it gets the bats going.

  2. hk

    November 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm


    The article linked below suggests that the Phils can spend $7.5M for Chooch (or another C), $7M for Kendrick, $2M on Bastardo, $1.2M on Revere and be at $152.3M, leaving them with $26.7M to spend. If they sign Granderson for an AAV of $14M, they would still have $12.7M to spend on an impact starter. These number seem inconsistent with yours. Where’s the discrepancy?

    Also, is .340 really a “low” OBP. Only 57 MLB hitters who had enough PA’s to be considered “Qualified” by Fangraphs had a higher OBP. The MLB average OBP was .317 last year. I think a .340 OBP hitter would be a welcome addition to the Phils lineup.

    Finally, if Granderson will be 33 on Opening Day 2014, he’ll be 37, not 38, on Opening Day 2018. Plus, it would take a 5 year deal to have him on the 2018 Opening Day roster.

    If they can sign Granderson for 3 years (his age 33 through his age 35 seasons) at the price suggested on Fangraphs, I think they should PLAY. I would even be okay with a 3 year deal with a team option on a 4th year at that price.

    • schmenkman

      November 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      .340 isn’t low, but his last two years have been .319 and .317.

      On the AAV, the threshold goes up to $189 M for 2014, so they would have about $36.7 to spend.

      • hk

        November 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm


        I agree that his .318 OBP of 2012-13 is low, but (a) that’s not what Ian wrote and (b) that’s part of the appeal of Granderson. If he was coming off a career average (.261 / .340 / .488) season, there’s no way that you’d get him for 3 years at an AAV of somewhere between $12.5M and $14M.

        As far as the AAV is concerned, the article to which I linked above claims that the Phils would be at ~$140.6M when you factor in the contracts, but that you also have to add ~$1M for all of the minor leaguers on the 40-man roster and another ~$10.7M for club player benefit costs. If the author of the article is correct that these two things count when calculating salaries vs. the luxury tax, they will be at ~$152.3M, so they would have ~$26.7M below the threshhold.

      • schmenkman

        November 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        189 – 152.3 = 36.7

      • hk

        November 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        I read right over the part about the threshhold increasing. My bad. If true, that makes the “would give them a little wiggle room to sign another impact player” claim in Ian’s article even further off base. They could sign Granderson and still have ~$23M left.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Our math is nearly identical – the difference is I went by yearly contracts instead of going AAV, that is all. This is my mistake. Also, I’m not sure where the issue is with saying they would have “a little wiggle room” to sign another impact player because they would.

      • hk

        November 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm


        My bad again…another reading comprehension error on my part. I read it as “little wiggle room” not as “a little wiggle room” as you wrote it. Now it makes sense and I think it lends to PLAY on Granderson if it’s for 3 years or 3 plus a team option.

      • Ian Riccaboni

        November 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm

        No problem! 🙂

  3. Lefty

    November 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Using the CBP overlay in ESPN’s HR tracker on Granderson’s 2012, season, only one of the 43 HR’s would not go out of CBP. Obviously, some were hit at different parks, but the point is that CBP plays just fine for him. He is not such a pull hitter that the difference between the 318 down the line in YS3 and 330 in CBP makes much difference. In fact the power alley in right field at CBP is a closer fence than than YS3.

    High or low OBP, his .811 OPS in his last full season would still have been 3rd on this team last season.
    Depending on the years, maybe I’d play this one. But I wish he was right handed.

    • hk

      November 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm


      Thanks for sharing that great info. Why do you wish Grandy was right-handed? The Phillies were almost as bad vs. RHP’s. as they were vs. LHP’s and ~70% of the PA’s in MLB are vs. RHP’s. It would seem to me that improving against RHP’s should be a bigger priority this off-season than improving vs. LHP’s.

      • Lefty

        November 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        hk, I’m of the general belief that a balanced lineup helps a team hit better from both sides of the plate. I believe that it really helps in the late innings when opposing managers have to use more of their relievers to combat the balanced lineup. I like Curtis Granderson a lot, in fact I’ve had him on my fantasy keeper team for many years.

        But I think Carlos Beltran, despite being 4 years older, with his switch hitting ability and solid numbers against both right and left-handers would be a stronger candidate for the Phils in what looks to be a similar price range for similar results. And I think I like Choo better as well.

        As I’ve stated before, I think it’s time to go young and not spend crazy on FA’s, but since it seems the team’s goal is to stay competitive and build at the same time, then-
        My outfield wish list in order would be
        1- Beltran ( a little older but might sign a shorter deal )
        2- Choo ( Better OBP than almost all MLB players)
        3 -Granderson ( Lots of pop, good all around player)

      • Beyondininity

        November 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        Yeah right… You just make it a lot easier for opposing managers to put in relievers, maybe not so much of a power disadvantage but a full lefty lineup is a heck of a tactical disadvantage

      • hk

        November 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm


        The Phils would be fine with an OF of Brown, Granderson and Revere if they re-sign Chooch and platoon Howard and Ruf at 1B. I would rather that they re-sign Chooch and sign Granderson than what I fear they’re going to do, sign McCann and Nelson Cruz.

        Beltran’s declining defense scares me. I also think he’ll sign in the AL so that he can DH part-time if not most or all of the time. If we are using the Fangraphs contract projections, Granderson is my top choice for a value OF signing.

  4. Lefty

    November 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    @Ian, Just in case you missed it yesterday, I want to compliment you again on this “Pass or Play” series. This is the best series of postings on PN for a long time. You are doing an excellent job of analysis and a they are all a great read. Thanks man.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Lefty – thank you! I did catch your message but it slipped to respond. I sincerely appreciate the kind words!

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