Megadeal boasts formidable talent
Granderson tops list of budding stars involved in blockbuster
INDIANAPOLIS -- High in the downtown Marriott's tower on Tuesday evening, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had a keen sense of what he referred to as "noise." Such rumors had permeated every square inch of the hotel lobby, leaving three eager GMs and one expectant public in their wake.
Hours earlier, sources confirmed that the Yankees, Tigers and D-backs had agreed in principle to a blockbuster trade that would send Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson to New York, Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson and Yankees right-hander Ian Kennedy to Arizona, and D-backs pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth -- along with Yankees prospect Austin Jackson and lefty Phil Coke -- to Detroit.
The deal, as of Tuesday evening, was not yet official, so the three GMs involved could not comment. But they could hint, and others could poke and prod, until the crux of the trade became clear.
"There's a lot of noise out there," Cashman said. "Clearly, I can't speak to the noise."
"All I can tell you is we continue to have ongoing dialogue on some major things taking place," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said earlier in the afternoon. "I really can't say anything more at this point."
By that time, however, the fog was already lifting. If the deal is completed here in Indianapolis, perhaps as soon as Wednesday morning, the Yankees will receive the trade's most established player in Granderson. Entering the offseason aiming either to re-sign left fielder Johnny Damon or find someone to replace him, New York can instead plug Granderson into center field and move Melky Cabrera to left.
A 29-year-old star with a backloaded contract that will pay him more than $23 million over the next three seasons, Granderson is a gifted defender with the type of left-handed power that could play well in Yankee Stadium. Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 steals in 631 at-bats last season for the Tigers, and he has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the past three seasons.
In his breakthrough year of 2007, Granderson hit .302, slugged .552 and hit 23 home runs with 26 steals.
"You always want to get younger, especially when you have an older team," Cashman said. "But I want to be better. So you just have to get younger with the right people."
To acquire Granderson, the Yankees will trade away Coke, their primary left-handed reliever for most of the 2009 regular season; Ian Kennedy, an injury-plagued pitching prospect once viewed in the same light as Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain; and Jackson, the organization's top overall prospect.
|D-backs|| RHP Edwin Jackson (from DET)
RHP Ian Kennedy (from NYY)
|Tigers|| RHP Max Scherzer (from ARI)
OF Austin Jackson (from NYY)
LHP Phil Coke (from NYY)
LHP Daniel Schlereth (from ARI)
|Yankees||OF Curtis Granderson (from DET)|
The D-backs will receive right-handers in Edwin Jackson and Kennedy, who should slot into the third and fourth spots, respectively, in their rotation. Jackson, 26, who arrived in Detroit last offseason following a trade with the Rays, had the best season of his career in 2009, finishing 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 214 innings. Jackson was particularly formidable over the first half of the year, opening the season 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA and making his first career All-Star appearance.
Kennedy's year was not quite so successful. Missing much of the season following May surgery to repair an aneurysm under his right armpit, Kennedy pitched in only four games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, also throwing one scoreless inning in a September relief appearance for the Yankees.
The former first-round Draft pick did, however, impress the D-backs in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 28 batters and walking just five over a league-leading 29 2/3 innings. During his first taste of the Major Leagues in 2007, Kennedy routinely drew comparisons to Mike Mussina.
In Arizona, he should slot fourth behind Dan Haren, Brandon Webb and Jackson in what figures to become one of baseball's elite rotations.
The deal was made possible thanks to the Tigers' desire to shed payroll, which they will do on a large scale by shipping away Granderson and the arbitration-eligible Jackson. In return, Detroit managed to reel in two coveted young players: Scherzer, who struck out 174 batters in 170 1/3 innings in his first season as a full-time Major League starter, and the 22-year-old Jackson, who had an outside chance to win the Yankees' starting center-field job in 2010.
Scherzer should slot into the Tigers' rotation behind ace Justin Verlander and second-year righty Rick Porcello. And without Granderson in the fold, Austin Jackson figures to be the in-house favorite to win the starting center-field job in Detroit.
Jackson, who hit .300 with four home runs and 24 stolen bases as one of the youngest players in the International League this past season, has long been regarded as one of the game's future stars. In 1999, Baseball America ranked him the best 12-year-old in the country, then named him the top 15-year-old three years later. This past season, Baseball America ranked Jackson the game's 36th-best prospect.
The Tigers will also receive Schlereth, the son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth, in the deal. Seen by many as a future closer, Schlereth sits in the mid-90s with his fastball but has suffered lapses in command in the past. Nonetheless, he could help stabilize the back end of Detroit's bullpen.
And so the Yankees, Tigers and D-backs progressed Tuesday, with a deal in place and confirmation pending. Cashman, for his part -- dressed in jeans and a sweater -- did not leave his team suite all day. Standing in one corner of that room Tuesday evening was a white board on an easel, its contents hidden by a white towel. In another corner, several of Cashman's aides watched as he addressed the media.
Wednesday may allow him, Dombrowski and D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes to uncover their white boards and reveal the sum of their work. Until then, "noise" will have to do.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.