Granderson Deal Bad for Diamondbacks, Worse for Tigers
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If you’re a Yankees fan, the prospect of your team receiving an all-star caliber outfielder such as Curtis Granderson–without having to rent a dump truck and fill it with Benjamin’s–has to be the next best thing to winning the World Series. Not that you needed the consolation.
New York acquired Granderson yesterday in a three team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers, sending OF Austin Jackson and RP Phil Coke to Detroit, and SP Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. In the same deal, the Tigers also send SP Edwin Jackson to the D-Backs, receiving SP Max Scherzer and RP Daniel Schlereth.
That’s a lot of pieces for the Tigers, who certainly must have a high projection for the future on Max Scherzer as the centerpiece of the deal, but when a team like the Yankees can get Granderson as cheaply as they were able to: first of all, Granderson is chump change for the Yanks through 2012, not to mention they gave up two functional spare parts and a 23 year old outfielder with a league average projection, it’s a fantastic trade. But it also means that the other parties come out as net losers in the deal. And there’s plenty of losing to go around.
I have a bigger problem with the trade on the Tigers end than the D-Backs end, which is not to say that they won’t both lose the deal. The Tigers gave up not just Granderson, but also SP Edwin Jackson, who emerged as a 2nd starter in their rotation with a 3.62 ERA. It should be noted that Jackson greatly overachieved his peripherals, scoring only a 4.28 FIP, and that projections for Jackson this year predict that 4.28 to be a best-case scenario for 2010 (before adjusting for his move to the NL west). But when you are the Tigers, and you give up two well established players who, between arbitration raises and contracts and the like, cost you less than $10 million to keep for the season, you need to get a strong return.
Austin Jackson is a very solid prospect in center, but I think it would surprise a whole lot of observers if he ever developed into a guy who could replace Granderson in total value. Even if he starts his career in the majors with Detroit in 2010. Scherzer, on the other hand, is kind of a scary proposition in a trade. He’s not as established as Jackson, but he’s cheaper, and under team control, and it’s a trade that the Tigers could win with the Diamondbacks.
I’m just not so sure they will. Scherzer is a strong prospect, but at 25, he’s likely as good, but not better, than his strong peripherals suggest. He should be able to fit right in the middle of the rotation, behind Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander. He’ll also have to hold up in the American League now, instead of pitching in the cushy NL West. On the other hand, he should get to start against the Royals four times as often. Jackson did it in the AL, and I think he will have great success for the Diamondbacks.
With that in mind, the Tigers have cheaply stacked their 40-man roster with reliable arms at virtually no cost, which was important to the Tigers, but it came at the expense of two of their difference makers from the 2009 season.
I’m not enthralled with what the D-Backs received in this deal, but I don’t think this trade is particularly meaningful to them either way. They had Scherzer, now they have Jackson. Eh. Doubt the experience will make up for the salary difference. Ian Kennedy is more of a flier than anything. If you can flip Daniel Schlereth for a league average starter, excellent! If Kennedy pitches more like he did in a small sample big league appearance for the Yankees, there’s not a whole lot here. I’m not sure the return in this deal was worth taking on payroll in Jackson’s arbitration figure, but if Kennedy gives you more than Billy Buckner was giving, then the deal and payroll increase was worth it.
If I were Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers, I would have waited this one out. I never really saw a Granderson trade as a great option to shed salary, and while I absolutely can see what he sees in Austin Jackson, this might have been less costly if the D-Backs weren’t involved. I like Scherzer, personally, but this trade just doesn’t do it for me, and the Tigers sure gave up a heck of a lot to get him.
On top of that, the Tigers have a lot of options to shed 2010 payroll that wouldn’t have meant trading Granderson. Now, they’ll need Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge to pick up the slack, among others, and frankly, I don’t see that happening. I do, however, see the Yanks headed back to the top of the AL East, thanks to a shrewed move here to land one of the three best centerfielders in the AL.