Everybody has that one ex they know they were crazy to let get away. The New York Yankees would feel the same way if they let Curtis Granderson walk through that door.
There are a few other teams that would have the same regrets, as the 2013 MLB free-agent class has the capability of being stacked. For further explanation, this column discusses big-time potential free agents and doesn’t even include Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. But that’s an article for a different day.
However, we do have a handy guide to the teams that need to hold on with everything they have for that special player in their life. Or, in this case, on their roster.
Atlanta Braves Outfielder Michael Bourn
Bourn has thrived in his second year as the leadoff hitter for the Braves. He has topped previous career bests by hitting nine home runs, knocking in 51 RBI and tossing up a .775 OPS. The 2012 All-Star also plays great defense, has snagged 33 stolen bags and leads the team with 81 runs scored, which all adds up to a 3.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Every team would love to have a leadoff guy who hits at least .300 (Bourn is close with his .288), but there is no doubting Bourn’s value.
Chicago White Sox Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis
The White Sox are in a dog fight for the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers, and one main reason was the spark provided by the in-season acquisition of Youkilis. Since arriving, the third basemen has hit 11 home runs and provided consistent defense at the corner. The White Sox will have to compete with the free-spending Tigers, who are welcoming back Victor Martinez next season. Chicago has a club option worth $13 million, so they don’t need to lock up the 33-year-old long term. The risk is worth the reward.
New York Yankees Outfielder Curtis Granderson
There really isn’t much explanation as to why New York must bring back one of the best players in the MLB over the last two years. Granderson loves the short porch at Yankees Stadium, having smoked a ridiculous 73 homers since the beginning of the 2011 season. His .241 batting average is his worst since his rookie season, but his defense and power still equal a 2.7 WAR. In addition, Granderson is still young enough (31) to be worth the $13 million club option on a team that is rapidly aging.
New York Mets Third Baseman David Wright
File this selection in the no-brainer category. David Wright has been resurgent now that he isn’t dealing with nagging injuries. He isn’t hitting as many home runs as he used to earlier in his career, but he is hitting .320 and provides stellar defense. Overall, his play is good for a ridiculous 7.4 WAR. Considering all of the bad publicity that the Mets have endured over the past few years, losing Wright would be a devastating PR move on a team that can’t afford one.
Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher James Shields
Big Game James would be worth every penny of the $9 million club option that the Rays hold for 2013. In fact, that would be a bargain. Shields is posting a career-high 8.66 strikeouts per nine innings. His 4.03 ERA is a little alarming, yet he has posted 11 wins for a team that is currently leading the race for the AL Wild Card. If nothing else, the Rays can do "Rays things" like flip him next year for prospects or draft picks that they will invariably hit on.