CHICAGO | If you’d like to pitch Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson on the concept of signing with the White Sox, hang around the baseball field at 16700 Chicago Ave. in Lansing around 5 p.m. Thursday.
Lynwood native Granderson, a T.F. South alum, will be the star attraction at a Little League All-Star Game connected with his philanthropic efforts. He’s donating his time on an off-day at home, taking a late flight back to New York.
Personable as he is, Granderson will be gracious as folks who wondered why neither Chicago team originally drafted him out of the University of Illinois-Chicago might now suggest he finally come home as a free agent in his baseball middle age.
The Sox may shed more than $40 million in payroll for 2014 just from the departures of Jake Peavy, Paul Konerko and Gavin Floyd. There would be room to sign Granderson.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard it,” Granderson said Tuesday of a Sox connection. “I’ve been part of rumors and different things prior to this point. Until anything does actually happen, I can’t go ahead and look too much further into it. Right now, I know I play for the New York Yankees. We’re trying to get into the postseason. That’s my main concern.”
Eliminate the Cubs as a suitor for Granderson, as they’re going young for the foreseeable future. They’ll keep the outfield clear for Junior Lake, Jorge Soler and eventually Albert Almora. The Sox don’t have the crop of position players to recall as they fix their broken lineup. They’ll have to mix a terrific prospect like newly-acquired Avisail Garcia and maybe one other surprise guy with a couple of veterans to change their face.
So here are the pros and cons of the Sox acquiring Granderson in his first experience with free agency after 10 seasons.
Pros: Granderson is a left-handed hitter with power, a crying Sox need. He would be a motivated local product who is close with parents Curtis, Sr. and Mary Granderson. He is one of baseball’s outstanding citizens, a clubhouse leader active in the community wherever he plays. He has an ownership stake in a string of restaurants here.
Cons: Granderson will be 33 next season. Money and contract length could be an issue – the Sox likely wouldn’t give more than two guaranteed years. He struck out 169 and 195 times in 2011-12, and the Sox are trying to cut down on their whiff-prone lineup. Granderson and Adam Dunn together might be too much. He’s been shifted to left field as the Yankees regard Brett Gardner as a better center fielder now.
Playing at home has been a dream long deferred for Granderson, who said he’s still confident in his center field defensive skills.
“It would have been interesting,” he said of playing for either the Sox or Cubs. “But I didn’t get to talked too much by either one of the scouts here, for whatever reason. Once I got to college, the main teams I thought that were going to pick me up were Oakland, Toronto or Detroit (who drafted him in 2002).”
So you know where to go Thursday to bend Granderson’s ear if you don’t like the haphazard baserunning from present Sox outfielders.