While the Yankees have a number of decisions to make this offseason regarding which free agents they should bring back or pry away from other clubs, the first acquisition of the offseason is 27-year-old outfielder Zack Granite.
Following last offseason, when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman pulled a bunch of rabbits out of his hat in the form of free agent D.J. LeMahieu and then trading for the unproven talents of Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman, it’s hard to chastise the moves he makes.
While not every transaction has turned out to be a winner (Troy Tulowitzki), in recent years, Cashman has gotten more right than wrong in regards to acquiring players that have gone on to step up their games, ten-fold, once donning the iconic pinstripes.
So perhaps former Seton Hall product Zack Granite will be the next Yankee success story. Granite, 27, is a native of Staten Island, NY, and was a 14th round pick by the Twins back in 2013.
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In 2016, while at Double-A Chatanooga, Granite slashed .295/.347/.382 with 86 runs scored, 18 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 52 RBIs and compiled a 43:42 K:BB ratio across 584 plate appearances (127 games).
Not only that, but the speedy center fielder, who can also play both corners, would go on to swipe 56 bases in 70 attempts — earning him the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Year award.
Promoted to the majors the following season, Granite played in 40 games while displaying excellent plate discipline with his 12 walks as compared to nine strikeouts. However, he didn’t hit the ball with any consistency (.237/.321/.290), despite going 1-for-2 in the 2017 Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium.
Last offseason, Granite was traded to the Rangers, where he had a nice showing at Triple-A Nashville. In 541 plate appearances (119 games), Granite hit .290/.331/.375 with 26 extra-base hits, three homers, 37 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
Again displaying that keen eye: 31 walks-to-45 Ks, I’m surprised the 78-84 (29 GB) Rangers didn’t at least call-up Granite once rosters expanded in September.
Inking a minor league deal with the Yanks that includes an invite to spring training, Granite can opt-out of his contract by June 15 if he isn’t on the 25-man roster.
As Aaron Hicks recovers from Tommy John surgery which will likely keep him out until August, Mike Tauchman is the only qualified center fielder currently on the club.
While Granite has the tools to cover plenty of ground, it’s hard to imagine his signing as minor league depth keeping the Yanks from reuniting with free agent Brett Gardner for a 13th season. But, hey, Brian Cashman has surprised us before.