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WHAT IF ... Granderson had stayed healthy in 2013?

12/18/2013 7:46 AM ET
By Doug Williams

After slugging over 40 home runs in back-to-back season, injuries slowed Curtis Granderson in 2013.(AP)
Yes, Curtis Granderson spent a lot of last season on the disabled list. But if it weren't for two poorly thrown fastballs, he may have played a full season. So, as the subject of today's "what if," we ask: What if Curtis Granderson hadn't gotten hurt last season?

Sometimes reputation is all that matters, and when you play 61 games in a season, your reputation is going to be that your injury prone. Unfortunately for Granderson, the reality is simply that he got hit with two pitches. He's not broken down or constantly being nagged by injuries, he just got hit with a few strokes of bad luck. Regardless, Granderson barely performed when he WAS healthy in 2013. He hit only seven home runs in 214 at bats and finished with a .229 average. But, the nice thing of playing "what if" is that none of that matters! So, instead, let's imagine Granderson had a season that consisted of his career 162-game average: .261, 30 HR, 83 RBIs.

Granderson signed with the Mets last week, a four-year, $60 million deal. Make no mistake about it, his 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Yankees were what got him that money. He hit 84 home runs between those two seasons, and proved himself to be a legitimate power threat. Granderson is also considered one of the best overall guys in baseball, and the Mets have young players who could learn a lot from him.

Remember, everything might have turned out different had Granderson stayed healthy. Cano would have had protection in the lineup, and who knows, the Yankees might have actually reached the playoffs. At his best, Granderson is the type of player who can have a WAR of over 5. Add five wins to the Yankees last season and you've got a team competing closely for the Wild Card. As cliché as it sounds, making the playoffs for the Yankees would have changed everything.

It's possible Granderson would have re-signed with the Yankees, along with Robinson Cano. Fans -- and the front office -- would have appreciated the effort from such an injury-ridden roster, and the Yanks would have been less worried about making a splash (like they did with Ellsbury and Beltran) and more concerned with re-signing their key pieces that brought them success in 2013.

If Granderson had hit 30 home runs in 2013, that would have been 114 home runs in three seasons. He would have been the best power hitter on the market, and arguably the most valuable outfielder. He also would have seen a guy like Hunter Pence get a five-year, $90 million deal from the Giants and would have targeted that kind of money and more. And given that the Yankees signed Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract, Granderson might have been able to take advantage of the Yankees' tendency to reward the pieces they covet.  

But it's hard to say just how much Granderson would have ended up making. I really think that Granderson would have targeted $90 million or more this offseason if he had stayed healthy last season. Given that both Nelson Cruz and Choo are still on the market, we're yet to find out who other than the Yankees is willing to spend money on outfielders. But if Grandy got $60 million after a bad year, adding two years and about $30 million more isn't completely unreasonable. While he does hit home runs, I don't think the Yankees would consider Granderson to be a $100 million guy because of his strikeouts and (this is more important to the Yankees than others) his less than stellar performance in October. In fact, you could make the argument that Granderson's value has been consistently decreasing since October of 2012, when he went 3 for 30 in the playoffs for the Yanks. Still, I think Grandy could have gotten about 80$ million from the Yankees, which is still significantly less than anything Ellsbury and Choo have demanded this offseason.

So, if you want my final answer to today's "what if," it's an interesting one: Curtis Granderson would be an even richer man, and I would suspect that he and Robinson Cano might still be in pinstripes, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran would still be the enemy. Oh, and the Yankees may have made the playoffs last year. 

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