Swisher over Granderson?
If you would have asked this question last year you would have looked silly, but now you can have a serious debate on whether it would be a better value to sign Nick Swisher long term than Curtis Granderson. Obviously, there are still a lot of factors that are unknown at this point that will weigh into the decision, but this was a debate that nobody saw coming. It has long been assumed that for the Yankees to get to the $189 million plateau in 2014 that they would have to part ways with Swisher in order to sign Robinson Cano and Granderson. However, with the season Granderson is having Swisher might actually be the better value on the free agent market this year than Granderson will be in the winter of 2013.
How well Granderson and Swisher perform between now and the time their contracts are up is still a big factor in how much they will be worth. This season’s postseason will be big for Swisher because if he flops again it will be even more unlikely the Yankees would not bring him back. But let’s say he has a successful postseason and for the Yankees to bring him back it would cost them $12 million over the next four seasons. The Yankees would be better off to sign him at that price than Granderson at closer to $20 million per season, which he may cost if he hits close to 40 HR’s three years in a row at a premium position.
Swisher’s .811 OPS has now surpassed Granderson’s .807 mark for this season. Swisher is also batting almost 30 points higher than Granderson, and only has two less RBI in 74 less plate appearances than Granderson. Granderson has hit just .202, with 7 HR’s, 20 RBI and a .677 OPS since the All-Star break. Whether it is just a prolonged slump and he will snap out of it is unknown, but it has been a pretty big sample size. It is well known that Granderson has swung and missed at a lot of pitches, but he has also fouled off a bunch of hittable pitches. On the other hand, Swisher has gotten hot and it looks like he will put up another year of hitting around .260, with 25 HR’s, and 85 RBI. He has been incredibly consistent over his four years with the Yankees and if he can finally perform in the postseason he can make a convincing case to stay. The Yankees are only 7-7 this year when Swisher has not been in the lineup. Maybe that is just a coincidence, but the lineup seems a lot shorter without him in it. He also provides great lineup versatility for Joe Girardi as he can hit at the top of the lineup or towards the bottom. I also get the sense that his presence around the clubhouse is a big positive for the team as well.
An ideal scenario for the Yankees outfield would be for the Yankees to trade for Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, trade Granderson to get some of the prospects back, and sign Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn to replace Granderson. That would be a pretty cost efficient outfield, but it would be hard to put together. Maybe they can work out a three team trade like the Yankees did to acquire Granderson to begin with. If the Yankees don’t re sign Swisher I still think Bourn could be a nice option and they can move Granderson to right field. Bourn would be a good leadoff hitter for the Yankees and they can really add a lot of speed to the lineup with him. Bourn has stolen at least 50 bases over the last three seasons and also his OPS+ is only four points lower than Granderson’s this season. Bourn’s problem is he strikes out a lot, as he has 115 strikeouts this season and 140 last season. However, despite those strikeouts he has still managed to hit .291 this season and .303 last season, which cancels out a lot of the strikeouts. It is also worrisome to give a speed guy a big contract when he is going to be 30 years old next year. However, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and they won’t be giving him a Carl Crawford esque deal. If they could keep his deal to a four year deal they should be fine. Another great scenario is to trade for Upton, trade Granderson and re-sign Swisher. The Yankees could then move Upton to left, put Brett Gardner in center field and still have Swisher in right field.
This is something to keep your eye on for the rest of the season. If Swisher can continue his hot hitting into the postseason and Granderson continues to struggle the Yankees may have a different outfield in the future than anybody might have figured. They will have some very interesting decisions regarding their future outfield.