NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Curtis Granderson rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer on Monday, and New York’s front office is relieved about his decision, according to WFAN/CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman.
The 32-year-old, who turned down the one-year, $14.1 million offer, had an injury-plagued season in 2013. The slugger batted .229 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in just 61 games.
With New York unlikely to re-sign Granderson, general manager Brian Cashman has set his sights on star-studded outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran, according to Heyman. Choo and Beltran have become the Bombers’ top two targets, and Cashman is also interested — thought not to the same extent — in signing Jacoby Ellsbury.
Choo batted .285 with 21 homers and 54 RBIs in 2013 and had a very impressive .423 on-base percentage. The 31-year-old also stole 20 bases and scored 107 runs.
And New Yorkers certainly know about Beltran, who starred for the Mets from 2005-2011. At 36 years old — he’ll be 37 in April — the eight-time All-Star doesn’t have the outfield range that he once had, but he’s still a very productive hitter.
Beltran, who declined a qualifying offer from the National League-champion Cardinals, batted .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs this past season. He also drilled 30 doubles and posted a .339 on-base percentage.
What’s also appealing is that Beltran is one of — if not the — best postseason performers of this generation.
Beltran has a special connection with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who was Beltran’s manager in the Royals’ organization back in 1998 with the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks. Long spoke about his relationship with Beltran last week on WFAN’s Yankees Hot Stove program.
“I’ve known Carlos a long time,” Long said. “He’s a tremendous human being, a tremendous baseball player and I’m proud of what he’s done and what he’s accomplished.
Long added that he would absolutely help recruit Beltran if needed.
“Certainly if they asked me to talk to him, I’d talk to him,” he said. “Carlos and I still talk, and I have his number. If it comes down to that, that would not be a problem. He’s still got a little bit left in the tank — we saw that. He’s a special player. He just continues to plug away and he’s doing a good job, still swinging the bat really well.”
Granderson is likely to receive a three- or four-year deal on the open market after drilling 84 home runs over the 2011-12 seasons, according to Heyman.
If and when he signs with another team, the Yankees will receive a first-round draft pick.
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