Blockbuster complete: Three-way trade sends Granderson to Yankees
The World Series champions landed yet another All-Star, getting the speedy center fielder from Detroit in a three-team trade Wednesday that included Arizona.
Granderson has worn No. 28 for nearly his entire career. But Joe Girardi may well take it next season -- the manager might bump up one digit to show he's now focused on winning the Yankees' 28th title.
"Of course, he's the man," Granderson said on a conference call. "He's the one that makes everything go. He's going to definitely have first dibs on it and if he chooses to take it, hey, I'll step back."
A day after the three teams reached a tentative agreement on the seven-player swap, they checked all the medical records and completed the first major trade of the winter meetings.
The Tigers came to Indianapolis looking to shed payroll and did exactly that -- they got lefty reliever Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson from New York, plus touted young pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from Arizona.
"The Granderson piece is something we're really happy about," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "We're not a finished product. We have areas of need."
Granderson takes over for Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner in center for the Yankees. Cashman said the trade doesn't necessarily preclude them from re-signing free agents Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP.
"We're still fluid in our discussions," Cashman said.
At 28, Granderson was a first-time All-Star last season when he had 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 steals. The lefty's batting average has fallen from .302 in 2007 to .280 in 2008 to .249 last year.
Granderson hit just .183 against left-handers and struck out 141 times overall. The Yankees plan to bat him second vs. righties and near the bottom of the lineup against lefties.
Anything is fine by him.
"It's a good change. Change has always been good," he said. "Everything is going to be a first again. I've got to go in and meet the clubhouse guys, got to meet new teammates, a new coaching staff. Where do I park? Where do I come in at?"
Tigers manger Jim Leyland gushed about Granderson earlier in the day.
"I think, in my opinion, Curtis Granderson is one of the things that's all good about baseball in today's baseball world. He is one heck of a player. He has a great face. He's very bright. He's very articulate. He's everything that's good about baseball," Leyland said. "He's the total package."
Detroit missed the playoffs after a late collapse and hoped to cut costs after a big attendance drop at Comerica Park. Granderson is owed $25.75 million through 2012.
"It was a business decision," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We were in a position where we just need to, based upon our situation right now, make some adjustments."
Edwin Jackson, a 26-year-old righty who is eligible for salary arbitration, was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 33 starts for the Tigers. He held opponents to a .247 batting average in 214 innings.
Kennedy, who turns 25 on Dec. 19, impressed when he came up from the minors at the end of the 2007 season, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts. He's been slowed by injuries the past two seasons.
Kennedy strained a muscle near his right ribcage and had bursitis in his right shoulder blade in 2008, when he was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA. He pitched in only one big league game this year, when he was sidelined by surgery May 12 to remove an aneurysm from beneath his right biceps.
"We feel the addition of two starters will solidify our rotation," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Edwin Jackson is a young All-Star who has continued to improve in recent years, and Ian Kennedy is a former first-rounder with a history of success and a tremendous feel for pitching."
Coke was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 72 relief appearances. He gave up two runs in 1 1/3 innings in the World Series.
Austin Jackson, 22, was regarded as one of the Yankees' top prospects. He hit .300 last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with 23 doubles, four homers, 65 RBIs and 24 steals.
Scherzer, the 11th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, is a 25-year-old righty who went 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts for Arizona last season, striking out 174 in 170 1-3 innings.
Schlereth, a 23-year-old lefty, was the 26th pick in the 2008 amateur draft. He made his major league debut this year and went 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 21 relief appearances with 22 strikeouts in 18 1-3 innings. He is the son of former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth.