It’s surprising this hasn’t been a bigger controversy at some point over the past three years, but the Yankees are finally considering making a change in center field.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com hears that the Yankees are mulling over moving Curtis Granderson to a corner outfield spot and using Brett Gardner in center field. While the Yankees believe that both players are quality options in center field, they feel that Gardner is the superior defender. Hard to argue with them there.
While this sounds like a great idea on paper, it would be a bit of an adjustment for Granderson, who hasn’t played anywhere other than center field since 2007 as a member of the Tigers. He has played a grand total of 22 games (three starts) in left field over nine seasons in the majors and none in right field. Gardner was limited to just 16 games this season due to an elbow injury which required surgery.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.