Yankees face big decisions on free-agents Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson
Including the retiring Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, nearly a dozen Yankees are set to be free agents this winter, chief among them the duo of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
The loss of one would make a huge dent in the Yankees' lineup, but the loss of both would rob the team of a solid middle-of-the-order combo that combined for nearly one-third of the Yankees' 245 home runs just one year ago.
Both have expressed a desire to return, but for Granderson at least, the first crack at free agency is one he relishes for perhaps somewhat selfish reasons.
"You get an opportunity to see if there's other interest out there," Granderson said Wednesday. "You get a chance to finally make a decision for the first time in your professional career, where you might want to go play. You get to take your time and decide certain things. Even when you get drafted, you have no control. It's something I'm looking forward to, so we'll see how it all plays out."
Granderson referenced how he thought he was going to be drafted by Oakland, but ended up getting taken by the Tigers in 2002. He debuted in 2004 and signed an extension in 2008 that went through his arbitration years and then some, so for him, this is the first time he's getting to experience the hustle.
If it were up to him, a return to New York might be the easiest -- and most desired -- choice, but Granderson knows that as much control as he has in his fate, it's still a two-way street.
"I've enjoyed my time here; the organization, from top to bottom, has been good to me, and I've enjoyed everything about the city," he said. "At the same time, it's definitely a business … I'm not the one writing the checks here."
Granderson will almost certainly be extended a qualifying offer, one which some may wonder if he, coming off an injury-plagued season, should accept in an attempt to up his value for next winter
"I don't know (if this season will affect my value), because I've never done this before; if I had something to compare it to, maybe I could better answer that question," he said, "but we'll see how it all ends up shaking out."
Cano, meanwhile, won't have to worry about that whole lessened value. After all, he entered Wednesday hitting .314 with 27 homers and 105 RBI in 156 games, many of which he played with little to no protection in the lineup behind him.
But, while Cano -- like Granderson -- admits he loves New York and would love to be back, he also said he's thought about the fact that Thursday could be his final home game in pinstripes.
"Well, yeah, who knows what's going to happen?" he asked Wednesday. "But I always play this game like it's the last day. … Nobody said I'm leaving, nobody said that I'm staying. I haven't decided anything yet. Let's see what happens after the World Series."
Even with the turmoil of the Yankees' season, Cano said he "enjoyed being here" and "I'm going to enjoy (being here) to the last day," and he knows that even if there's a lot of turnover in 2014, the Yankees way is winning - and winning is what they'll seek to do.
"This is a team that always had a lot of superstars, future Hall of Famers. Mariano's leaving, Andy (Pettitte) is leaving, (but) I know Jeter, A-Rod, they have three or four years left … I mean, you got two guys leaving but there's always going to be somebody here," Cano said. "They always find a way to get guys to get this team to win. We got CC (Sabathia), Tex (Mark Teixeira) and A.J. (Burnett) in 2009 and we won a championship. They always get the right pieces to win."
But much like with Granderson, Cano knows that within that, his own future may come down to business. He's sure to command a mammoth contract that may or may not fit into the Yankees' hopes of paring payroll down to $189 million - and he understands that completely.
"I understand it's a business. (The Yankees) have to decide what is the best for them, and I have to decide what is best for me and my family," he said.
Part of that decision will come with the aid of Cano's family, as the slugger said he will sit down with them to see what they think as well.
"I want to get advice, because your mom and dad always want the best for you," Cano said. "And then when the day gets closer, that's when I want to sit down with my family and decide what we're going to do."
Come Sunday night, that decision process will begin in earnest. Before it comes to fruition, Cano said that he plans to "go on vacation and relax" but it may be the most un-relaxing winter break ever for both he and Granderson.
And, in reality, it could be even worse for the Yankees if both end up requesting change of address labels for their final paychecks.