There is little doubt now that Curtis Granderson is one of the best centerfielders in all of baseball. Prior to the 2008 season, Granderson signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Tigers worth $30.25 million with a club option for 2013. The New York Yankees are likely to exercise that option on Granderson but would like to work out a long-term deal with the 31 year-old centerfielder. However, any hope of getting Granderson for anything less than $18 million per year went out the window with the announcement of Adam Jones getting $85 million over six years from the Baltimore Orioles.
Granderson has emerged as the Yankees most prolific power threat over the past season and a half. His left-handed swing is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. His power surge has compensated for the power decline from Alex Rodriguez and, to some extent, Mark Teixeira. The Yankees probably won’t let Granderson walk, especially since Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson were the main pieces the Yankees parted with to land Granderson and are both showing signs of being very good Major League ballplayers.
Adam Jones is five-years younger than Granderson and has a higher ceiling than Granderson does. However, Jones hasn’t lived up to the huge expectations that came with him when he was traded from the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Erik Bedard. This year, Jones has looked explosive at the plate, looking like he will finally emerge as the hitter the Orioles hoped they were getting when they traded a still promising Bedard for Jones. This year, Jones has 14 home runs, the exact same number as Granderson. Jones has more RBI and is hitting fifty-two points higher than Granderson this season but has a lower on-base percentage. Jones and Granderson actually have very similar numbers through their first seven years of their careers.
The one difference is Jones is still slated to become a free agent in six years, when he will be 32 years-old. Granderson is slated to be a free agent after the 2013 season when he will be 33. The Yankees don’t exactly have a track record of letting free agents walk, especially if they have proven they can play in New York. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Yankees offered Granderson a five-year deal worth well above what Jones is slated to make over six years. By the time Granderson is ready to retire both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be retired. Mariano Rivera will be gone, the Yankees will actually have money to spare, especially if the Yankees prospects develop, allowing the Yankees to keep costs down. Granderson could be looking at perhaps $20 million per year.
Jones is a great player but he is on his way to the finest year of his career. If he continues to hit like this the Orioles would have made a great deal. If he doesn’t, or pulls a Vernon Wells, the Orioles will be left holding an untradeable contract. Either way, Curtis Granderson will walk away with lots of change in his pockets thanks to Adam Jones.