It is no secret the Yankees want to get their payroll under $189 million by 2014 in order to avoid the heavy luxury tax that baseball would put on them if their payroll is higher than $189 million. But in order to get to their payroll goals the Yankees are going to have to make some tough decisions as early as this upcoming off season. Nick Swisher is on the final year of his contract; so if Russell Martin. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have one more year left before they become free agents.
The Yankees are serious about bringing the payroll down, and realistically speaking they cannot afford to keep all four players. It is pretty obvious they will keep Cano, and they probably should try to extend his contract this off season. Russell Martin has had a horrible year offensively, although he has been hitting very well in the month of September. Still Martin is a very good defense catcher, he works well with the pitchers and calls a good game. The Yankees have some good young catchers in the minor leagues but they are not necessarily ready to take over yet. Austin Romine could be someone the Yankees take a look at to see if he could be the the everyday catcher, but he did get hurt this year and missed a significant amount of time with a back injury. Russell could come back on perhaps a cheap two-year deal, while the Yankees wait for Gary Sanchez who many think is the long-term catcher for the Yankees.
So that leaves Swisher and Granderson. You have to believe that long-term the Yankees can’t keep both. Maybe they resign Swisher… maybe they let him walk. They could keep Granderson until 2013 and then let him walk, or they could trade him, or even extend his contract. But thinking long-term which one is the better option?
A year ago Granderson was having a very good year, he came in fourth in the AL MVP voting. He hit a career high 41 HRs, he had 119 RBI, stole 25 bases, had 153 hits, scored 136 runs, his OPS was .916, his OBP .364, a SLG of .552, and a avg of .262.
This year though, Granderson’s numbers have gone down. Yes he has 40 home runs but look at everything else. His strikeouts are up, he had 169 last year and so far this year he has about 189, he could probably reach 200 strikeouts this year! He is batting an abysmal .227, he only has 9 stolen bases!! The stolen bases part really annoys me because he has speed and he doesn’t utilize it. I know he is striking out a lot but still, especially with the Yankees missing that speed element most of the year with Gardner out, I felt like Granderson was the one who need to help the Yankees out in that department and he didn’t. There is six games left in the regular season and Granderson doesn’t even have 100 RBI’s yet, he only has 97. No one on the Yankees has 100 RBI’s yet but still. His hits are down to 130 so far, he has scored fewer runs with 96. His walks are down as well; last year he had 85 walks, this year he has 72.
It seems like ever since Kevin Long did that mechanical adjustment with Granderson back in late 2010, Granderson has just changed as a player. Yes he always struck out a lot, but he is striking out too much. He is barely stealing any bases, his average is not good. And defensively Granderson certainly isn’t the best out there, you could actually possibly say he is slightly below average.
While Granderson does hit 30-40 home runs now with the Yankees, and he will give you 90-100 RBIs there are a lot of things to consider. Is this really a guy the Yankees want to give a 5 or 6 year deal too??
Then there is Swisher. Swisher’s numbers have been pretty consistent with the Yankees. You can usually expect 20-30 home runs, probably around 90 RBIs, average maybe around .260. Swisher hasn’t really hit in the postseason while with the Yankees so that is a concern, but hopefully he will change that this post season, if the Yankees get there and I think they will.
But the point is you know what you are getting from Swisher. Apart from that Swisher is a good defender, he has power, he can hit in different spots in the lineup making him very versatile. He can hit 2nd, he can hit 5th or 6th or 7th. Besides playing RF he can also play first base which has proven to be quite valuable for the Yankees these past few weeks with Teixeira out. Plus Swisher is a switch-hitter which is always nice to have in your lineup. Swisher also brings another element that I think is very important for the Yankees, his personality! In a clubhouse where a lot of the players are just so business-like, Swisher brings fun and energy to the clubhouse. He makes things interesting and pumps up the team. His love for the game shows every time he takes the field.
Now both players have become fan favorites, but with the new payroll situation, they can’t both stay. The Yankees have options. As said earlier they could keep Swisher and trade Granderson, or keep Granderson and let him walk in 2014. The OF free agent class this off season will probably be headlined by Josh Hamilton but I am sure the Yankees won’t be going after him. After Hamilton well there is not much exciting players. There have been reports that the Yankees could be interested in Cody Ross, and he wouldn’t be a bad signing on a short cheap deal. The Yankees also have Chris Dickerson who I think given the chance to play everyday can be a very good player for them. He has speed, he is a pretty good defender, he has a bit of power and a good bat. If need be the Yankees can move Gardner to CF and have Dickerson play LF and let Swisher play RF. Or they could keep Gardner at LF and Granderson at CF and Dickerson at RF, or get someone else, or keep Swisher.
The Yankees have some good OF prospects in the minor leagues, most notably Tyler Austin, but they are all still a couple of years away from coming up. In the meantime the Yankees need to make a decision, and it won’t be an easy one.
So here is the question. If you were the Yankees what would you do? Who would you keep?? Leave a comment below and let me know.