12/09/09 7:50 PM ET
Three-team blockbuster deal official
Granderson to Yanks, Jackson to D-backs in big trade
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
The trade also sent 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 reliever Phil Coke, to Detroit.
The three teams finalized the deal, which they agreed to in principle on Tuesday, following a review of medical files on Wednesday.
"It's one of those things where you really look hard at it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said at a news conference announcing the trade late Wednesday afternoon. "We had a lot of discussion. It did take a long time, a lot of creativity by the people here at this table, to pull it off."
The Yankees, in a deal that hatched prior to Thanksgiving but didn't come into clear focus until this week, received 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 now plug Granderson into center field and move Melky Cabrera to left.
A 28-year-old star with a backloaded contract that will pay him more than $23 million over the next three seasons, Granderson is an above-average defender with the type of left-handed power that could play well at Yankee Stadium. Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 steals in 631 at-bats this past season for the Tigers, and he has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the past three seasons.
In his breakthrough 2007 season, Granderson hit .302, slugged .552 and hit 23 home runs with 26 steals. The Yankees expect him to bat second against right-handed pitchers and lower in the order against lefties -- pending the outcome of their offseason shopping, of course.
Though Cashman said he will still pursue his own free-agent left fielder, Damon, the Yankees suddenly find themselves with far more leverage in those negotiations. And they are now even more unlikely to re-sign both Damon and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui.
"We are still fluid in our discussions," Cashman said. "It gives us comfort right now to know that we have solved a big part or at least some part of our offense that was vulnerable."
To acquire Granderson, the Yankees traded away Coke, their primary left-handed reliever for most of the 2009 regular season; 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.
"It was a hard decision to make," Cashman said. "We are excited about what we are getting, and we are distraught about what we gave up at the same time."
The D-backs received right-handers 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. He 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.
|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)|
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.
"One thing we have maintained in the last several years is trying to have as strong a rotation as we can and applying our resources to that," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "For us to enter into any trade like that and give up Max Scherzer, who is a very talented young starter, we felt like we needed to bring in two starters."
The deal was made possible thanks to the Tigers' desire to shed payroll, which they did 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.
"When you trade players ... that are known for the unknown, it's never a popular move with your fans," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "There will be some people that like those moves -- but then you have to make good decisions."
Scherzer should slot into the Tigers' rotation behind ace Justin Verlander and second-year right-hander Rick Porcello. And without Granderson in the fold, the athletic Jackson will 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.
"We are counting on him to make our big league club," Dombrowski said. "We have scouted him very thoroughly. He's a talented youngster. He's been that way for a long time. He's a quality prospect. I guess until people make it, they are still prospects. But he's about as sure a guy as you can have."
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.
More than Schlereth, though -- more than Scherzer or Kennedy or either Jackson -- the deal hinged upon Granderson, whose celebrity trumps that of the other six combined. The most difficult part of the deal, Dombrowski said, was parting with one of the game's most well-liked players.
"When I talked to him on the phone today, I said it was one of the more difficult phone calls I've made in my career," Dombrowski said. "He is an individual that's meant a lot to our franchise, a lot to the city, to the state and he's been a Tiger. So it's very tough -- a very difficult conversation."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.