I saw today that the Yankees are going to exercise their option on Curtis Granderson. He will earn $15 million next season, and will be a free agent at the end of the year. Now, I don't know if the Yankees will seriously consider trading him and putting Brett Gardner in centerfield, but if so, he strikes me as the type of player who would decline a "qualifying offer" after 2013 in favor of signing a multi-year deal with someone. Therefore, if the Cubs were to trade for him, and take on his salary, they could potentially be in line for two extra draft picks in June of 2014.
There has been similar talk about the Cubs' own nearly free agent, Matt Garza. He probably won't be healthy enough that a team would trade for him in Spring Training, but if they wait any longer, they wouldn't be able to get compensation picks if they don't sign him at the end of the year.
What do you think of this as a strategy for the Cubs in 2013? The consensus seems to be that the team hopes to be better than this season, but is not expecting to be in contention. There is plenty of room on the payroll to carry a few players who may make over $10 million, and who you would be glad to have stay on a one-year deal at $13-14 M, but who likely would turn it down. Trading for players who would be free agents after 2013 would be a way to use the payroll to, in essence, acquire more young, high draft picks for upcoming years.
Now, I don't intend for this to be a referendum on Curtis Granderson. He is a Chicago guy and apparently a wonderful person and representative of his teams, and he's hit a Chicago Skyline Tour boat-load of home runs the last couple of years. He was even decent against lefties in 2011. He also has known flaws. However, I'm more interested in the concept in general.
So, here are a few other players who would technically fit the bill, available or not:
- Jacoby Ellsbury
- Hunter Pence
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Ricky Nolasco
- Brian McCann (out for the first few months of 2013)
- Robinson Cano (yeah, right, I know)
- Dan Haren
- James Shields
- R.A. Dickey
I would assume most of these guys would require a pretty good package of players in return. A couple of draft picks hardly makes up for trading away good young players. But let's say the Cubs could exchange a couple of their veterans for one of these guys, maybe DeJesus, Wood, Marmol; or young players that don't seem to have much future with the Cubs, like Junior Lake, Josh Vitters, Jae-Hoon Ha, or some of the power arm relievers that got a cup of coffee this season. Can you imagine a scenario in which the Cubs' big veteran acquisition of this offseason is someone who will be a free agent after 2013?