A Curtis Granderson Extension

There hasn't been much talk about a Curtis Granderson extension since last year. On Monday, we learned that the center fielder is open to extension talks with the Yankees, saying, "I'd be a fool not to." But before Granderson had anything to say about playing with the Yankees beyond 2013, it was hard to imagine how the organization could fit another 8 figure annual salary into their planned 2014 budget. As it stands, the team barely has $50 million to spend without Robinson Cano next season, and locking up another player in their 30's might not be the brightest plan. The Yankees will be losing a big chunk of their team in the upcoming offseason. Cano, Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, and potentially Derek Jeter will all be free agents come November. Offensively, if the team doesn't re-sign Cano, Granderson, or Youkilis, the Yankees could be down around 90 home runs, and that's after losing Nick Swisher and Russell Martin's 40+ home runs this season.

In a perfect world, the Yankees would be able to trade for a cheap young outfielder like Giancarlo Stanton next season. It would make up for the 40 home runs lost losing Granderson, but the amount of prospects lost could be detrimental to the wholes in the rotation.The only reliable Yankee starting pitcher under control in 2014 is CC Sabathia, and unless you believe in Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Dellin Betances, or Manny Banuelos becoming viable #2/#3 starters, the team will need to also obtain cheap quality pitching.

Depending on the circumstances, extending Granderson might make sense. Considering his eagerness to talk extensions, he may be willing to take a home town discount. You could also make the case that his stock is at a low point right now, and I've already pointed out how his offense and defense should improve in 2013. Remember that Granderson is only a year removed from a 7.0 fWAR season, and moving him to left field should help relieve him of his negative defensive value.

At the moment, the cons to extending Granderson are his contact rates and his age. But in 2012, his contact rate and his plate discipline were at career lows, and it's possible that these are outliers. Even if the strikeout trend continues, strikeouts are not as bad as fans believe they are. Remember that Granderson hit into only 5 double plays last season, which are far more unproductive than whiffs.

On his age, Granderson projects to hold up well. For players like Carl Crawford and Michael Bourn, outfielders that made their money with their legs, big contracts into their 30's made less sense because speed is one of the first tools to diminish. Unlike most center fielders, Granderson's power is the basis of his offense, and it's a much more unlikely tool to regress in his early to mid 30's.

So if Granderson is willing to take a hometown discount, the Yankees might be smart to buy low and lock him up. As I pointed out above, losing 90 home runs this offseason could be devastating, and the front office will have to find some way to make up for it. Extending Granderson now gives them some certainty about half of those home runs, and gives them an option over extending Cano in a much more competitive market.

When you take into consideration that Cano is only a year younger and stuck at a position that's historically unkind to a player's health, Granderson emerges as a corner outfielder with the ability to put up the same amount of value going forward. I would assume that Granderson's extension costs less than $100 million in total (perhaps 5 years and $18 million?), which could be around $100 million cheaper than what Cano receives. It's perceived that the second baseman is much more likely to outproduce the outfielder, but when you start looking at cost and history of regression in the middle infield, there is a case to be made that extending Granderson makes more sense.