Yesterday, the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks pulled off a blockbuster trade that sent Curtis Granderson to New York and an assortment of young players to Detroit and Arizona. As a Yankee fan, I was at first skeptical of the trade, because I was wary of Granderson’s production last year and I wasn’t that thrilled with having to give up four young players (of varying talent level). But the more I’ve thought about it, the more pleased I’ve become with this trade. Even though Granderson’s average was down last year, he did hit 30 home runs. And Yankee Stadium probably won’t hurt a lefty who pulled all but three of his home runs last year. I also don’t think the Yankees necessarily need to hit him at the top of the order, where he did the bulk of his work last year. Especially with the power he’s shown, he could benefit from hitting 6th or 7th in the offense-rich Yankee lineup. Granderson can also run, which is a plus for a Yankee team that is (once again) getting up there in age. He was a 20/20 guy last year and in 2007, and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t duplicate that. The last thing I’ll say about Granderson doesn’t have to do with his game on the field. He’s viewed as a great guy and a great teammate, and he has served as an ambassador to Major League Baseball. I’m not saying that it’s a good idea to acquire players for their personality traits, but especially in a big city like New York, being a good guy can never hurt.
How about the rest of this monster deal? The Yankees shipped Phil Coke and prospect Austin Jackson to the Tigers and Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. Originally, the deal included a fourth prospect, lefty reliever Mike Dunn, who was supposed to go to the Tigers. Talks seemed to pick up when Dunn, who is 24, was removed from the package. Dunn’s got good stuff and a lot of velocity, but has a hard time finding the strikezone (as we saw in his brief stint with the Yankees last September); still, it seems like the Yankees don’t want to give up on him. Coke, Jackson, and Kennedy is certainly a fair lot for Granderson. Although I was a Phil Coke fan last year, he is certainly replaceable member of the bullpen (maybe even with Dunn next year, if he can keep his control problems in check). Jackson was highly touted and was hyped-up by the Yankee brass, but his stock seemed to have fallen as his lack of power became more pronounced. I’m certainly fine with turning him into Granderson. As for Kennedy, he had pretty much had nowhere else to go with the Yankees, as they have plenty of pitching depth.
The other part of this deal was a swap between the Tigers and the Diamondbacks: Edwin Jackson for Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth. The Diamondbacks' part in this deal is debatable, but it’s certainly good for the Tigers. In Scherzer, they get a young rotation arm with good stuff, and in Schlereth, they get a young bullpen arm with good stuff. Although Jackson had a fine season last year, his low strikeout rate and high walk rate point to a likely regression in terms of ERA next year. Then again, he’ll be returning to the National League, which, along with the double play, is a pitcher’s best friend. Also, Jackson is still relatively young, he throws hard, and based on stuff alone it’s reasonable to believe that he can be an above-average major league pitcher. Still, I think that the price of Scherzer and Schlereth was a bit much for Jackson. In Kennedy, the D-Backs get a potential back-end guy behind Brandon Webb (if healthy), Dan Haren, and Jackson.
Overall, I think that the Yankees are the clear winners in this trade. Acquiring Granderson was important in making the team better, and the price they had to pay was not that steep (they didn’t have to part with Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain). The Tigers are clearly in salary-shedding mode, and getting Coke, Jackson, Scherzer, and Schlereth is a good start for a team that’s trying to save money and get younger. The Diamondbacks are the losers of this deal in my mind, but if Kennedy and Jackson step up, they could have a dynamic rotation in 2010.
A Baseball Weblog