Each 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.
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.