I’m fond of writing “what a difference a year makes” on this site, but in the case of Curtis Granderson you have to ask what a difference a few games make? Granderson had an odd season. He hit a career high 43 homers, but he also had a career worst .319 on base percentage. After his phenomenal, .393 wOBA 2011 campaign Granderson submitted a disappointing 2012, becoming the ultimate binary outcome player: strike out or home run. He did not show up for the 2012 playoffs at all, making the perception that he had a poor season that much worse. Now, as the Yankees look to re-tool, Granderson’s name is circulating as a possible trade candidate. Should the Yankees pull the trigger?
Obviously, any player should be traded for the right price (provided he doesn’t have a no trade clause). So what I’m really asking is if the Yankees can get fair value in return for Granderson? As frustrating as Granderson’s .232/.319/.492 season was, he remains a young, affordable option in Center with above average offensive production for the position. The Center Fielders who had stronger offensive seasons than Curtis are all among the very best in the game, players such as Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen. Furthermore, Curtis may have only registered 2.6 fWAR this season, but that figure is misleading. Fangraphs hates Curtis’ defense and rates him as a -17.8 run UZR fielder for 2012. That seems extreme. Removing the defensive statistics makes Curtis closer to a four win player. You don’t trade four win players because it is almost impossible to get fair value in return.
The facts remain that in 2013 Granderson will be only 32 years old. He’ll cost the Yankees only $13 million dollars. He still figures to be an offensive contributor and he has the potential to bounce back in terms of his average. (Curtis BABIP was just .260 this past season, well below his .305 career average.) Given his age and pending free agency the Yankees would be selling low to trade Granderson now. It is unlikely the team would get back fair value and nearly impossible for the team to turn him into a younger, longer term contributor. It makes more sense for the Yankees to exercise their option on Curtis and bring him back for another season. Given his commitment to improving his game odds are the Yankees would be trading one Curtis Granderson for a better Curtis Granderson.