How Could the Yankees Replace Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson This Winter?
The New York Yankees offense has come up small against the Detroit Tigers in the first three games of the ALCS, scoring just five runs in three games, and a number of players can be pointed to for the struggles.
Stars Alex Rodriguez (.130 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI), Nick Swisher (.154 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI) and Curtis Granderson (.103 BA, 1 HR, 1 RBI) have scuffled all postseason, as those numbers show, and they're a combined 3-for-25 in the ALCS.
While A-Rod and the $114 million he is still due over the next five seasons is not going anywhere, the other two guys could be on the move if the Yankees look to overhaul their lineup prior to 2013.
Swisher has been a consistent performer during the regular season in his four years with the Yankees and has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past eight seasons. He's a free agent at season's end, and reports have him looking for a deal in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $126 million contract that Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals (h/t Jon Heyman).
That should be enough for the Yankees to cut ties and let him walk, as they could consider bringing him back on something like a three-year, $33 million deal but won't give him the monster deal he wants and may very well get elsewhere.
He's emerged as one of the premier home-run hitters in the game over the past two seasons, hitting 41 and 43 long balls. However, his average has suffered as a result, and he hit a career-low .232 with a .319 OBP this past season.
The Yankees won't just flat-out decline his option, but they could very well look to trade the center fielder in an attempt to cut some payroll and acquire what would likely be a solid package of prospects.
With that, here are some options the Yankees could explore as replacements in the outfield alongside incumbent Brett Gardner.
The marquee name of the free-agent class, Hamilton will likely command a contract north of $100 million. He comes with some obvious risks, but he represents the kind of impact move the Yankees have not shied away from making in the past.
The speedy Bourn would bring a different element to the Yankees' lineup than either Swisher of Granderson bring, but he's proven to be one of the game's best table-setters in Atlanta. While he'll command a sizable contract, he'll likely be a cheaper option than both Swisher and Granderson as well.
Young has been a Yankee-killer the past two postseasons, going 10-for-32 with five home runs and eight RBI in eight games. He's certainly a tier down from the above guys, but he could give the team a cheaper, shorter-term option who's given them fits of late.
Ludwick has a $5 million mutual option with the Reds, but after a strong season, he will likely decline that option and seek a multi-year deal. He hit .275 BA, 26 HR, 80 RBI hitting in the middle of the Reds' lineup.
Ross struggled with the Giants in 2011 and was left with few options on the free-agent market last winter before signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox. A bounce-back year of .267 BA, 22 HR, 81 RBI will leave him in a much better position this winter. Hey, they may sign him for no other reason than the fact the Red Sox want him back.
Suzuki struggled through his first 95 games of the season in Seattle, but he hit .322 BA, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 14 SB in 67 games after being traded to the Yankees. He'll be 39 next season, but the team may be able to squeeze another couple solid seasons out of him.
Upton seems less likely than any of the above guys, as he's as frustratingly inconsistent as the players they could look to rid themselves of. Still, he has impressive tools and is coming off of a career-high 28-home-run season.
The younger Upton has been rumored to be on the move several times, but this could be the offseason that those rumors become a reality. He's signed for $38.5 million over the next three years, and if he can return to his 2011 form (.289 BA, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB), he'd be huge pickup and a steal at that price.
Choo is set to hit free agency at the end of the 2013 season, and with the Indians in need of a major roster rebuild, they will likely shop him this offseason and almost certainly move him at some point between the end of the postseason and the 2013 trade deadline. He's a solid .300 BA, 20 HR, 20 SB threat and a solid on-base guy who could hit near the top of the lineup.
This one is a bit of a long shot, but if the Nationals were to sign a center fielder and re-sign Adam LaRoche, they could put Morse on the trade block. Injuries cut into his production in 2012, but when healthy, he looked more than capable of matching his 2011 breakout numbers.
So there is a look at the field of candidates the Yankees could turn to if they opt to cut ties with both Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson before the start of the 2013 season.
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