When the New York Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson in December of 2009 they saw his left-handed swing and thought he would be a perfect addition to Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch. The Yankees were saying good-bye to Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui after the two players helped them win the 2009 World Series. Granderson made sense even if it would cost them Phil Coke, Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy.
Granderson has been in Pinstripes for four years now and is due to become a free agent at the end of the season. The now 32-year-old outfielder looked like he might price himself out of the Yankees’ plans since they were intent on getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. However, a broken forearm suffered in his first at-bat of spring training put a hold on Granderson’s attempt to prove he was worthy of one last big contract. He came back for a short time before suffering a broken pinky finger on another hit by pitch.
This season, Granderson has appeared in only 52 games and has hit seven home runs and scored 30 runs while driving in 14 and hitting .244/.335/.444. The three-time All-Star has been a vital power cog in a Yankee lineup that badly needed power this season. One can make the argument that if the Yankees had had a healthy Granderson all year they might be in the lead for the AL Wild Card.
However, he wasn’t and the Yankees aren’t. Granderson will probably hit the open market but his value might be highest to the Yankees and vice versa. Granderson’s swing is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium as evidenced by the fact that he has hit 115 home runs in four seasons with the team as compared to 102 homers in his six seasons with the Detroit Tigers.
While the Yankees won’t break the bank, and nor should they, for Granderson he remains a vital source of power in a lineup that might not feature much power next year. Alfonso Soriano will be back and is having a fine year but will be 38-years-old. Mark Teixeira should be healthy next season but his power has been in decline for a couple of seasons now and he is now coming off of wrist surgery. There is also the Alex Rodriguez situation and his looming suspension. The Yankees could be in a similar position next season, sending out a lineup of Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki and who knows what Derek Jeter will do at this stage.
The Yankees need Granderson and Granderson needs the Yankees. He won’t get more money elsewhere since a lot of teams believe his power is generated mostly from Yankee Stadium. Granderson should be signed to a deal that is good for both parties, perhaps a four-year deal with an annual value around $12-15 million could get it done for both sides. The onus will be on Granderson. Either way, Granderson will be tendered a contract so if he does leave the Yankees will get a first round pick in next season’s draft. As valuable as that would be for the future of the team the Yankees need Granderson in the immediate future and that is more valuable right now.