Granderson deal Yanks' splash in Indy
Center fielder acquired for Jackson, Kennedy and Coke
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Yankees did not come to the Winter Meetings expecting to shake up the news cycle in front of the national baseball audience, but by Wednesday, they had certainly done that by officially acquiring All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson in a seven-player trade involving the Tigers and D-backs.
With the biggest move of the week now complete, the Yankees can begin to pencil in lineups that include Granderson, immediately installed as the club's everyday center fielder and featuring a powerful left-handed stroke that will soon take aim at Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.
"I'm not going to be the standout guy," Granderson said. "I'm not going to be the guy that you're constantly worried about. But if you don't keep an eye on me, hopefully, I can go and sneak in and do some positive things for our team."
The Yankees had to give up something to get the affable 28-year-old, and that meant that general manager Brian Cashman had to send outfield prospect Austin Jackson and left-hander Phil Coke to Detroit while also shipping right-hander Ian Kennedy to Arizona.
In the other pieces of the deal, the D-backs acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson from the Tigers, and Detroit obtained right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth from Arizona.
Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 160 games for the Tigers in 2009, and the All-Star said that his versatility and willingness to hit anywhere in the lineup could help him adapt to whatever role the Yankees have in mind.
"We're excited about what he brings to the table -- his athleticism, his youth, his power and how it all relates to where we play," Cashman said. "His personality, how people gravitate to him -- they're all plusses."
Over the past five seasons, Granderson ranks third in the Majors with 56 triples, but it is his power that the Yankees might find most appealing. Granderson saw how the ball carries out of the new Stadium, and though he won't go up looking to pepper the seats, more dingers could be in his future.
"I've never been a guy who's gone up there trying to hit home runs," Granderson said. "I think it's one of those things that has evolved over my career, and hopefully, the same will hold true at Yankee Stadium -- going up and trying to drive the baseball, and if it gets out, it gets out."
|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)|
New York's interest in Granderson was hatched in November, though the permutations of the deal have evolved. Originally, the Yankees balked at including Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes in the package, and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn was successfully yanked from discussions as well.
The Tigers may have needed to shed Granderson's contract, but Cashman said he felt it was a "good contract" for New York's budget. Granderson is scheduled to receive $5.5 million next season, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in '12, with a club option for '13.
But the price in terms of prospects is still difficult for Cashman to swallow, and the veteran GM said he wrestled with the projections of what Jackson, Coke and Kennedy could eventually become at the Major League level.
"We're excited about what we're getting, and we're distraught about what we gave up at the same time," Cashman said "It's not like I'm doing handstands. It's a tough decision. You're trading the future for here and now."
Granderson said he is excited about the change and has a good idea of what sort of frenzy awaits him once he finally puts the pinstripes on.
Walking through a crowded Manhattan sidewalk with former teammate Marcus Thames, Granderson once saw the former Yankee recognized by a police officer, who not only pointed at the outfielder but recalled that he slugged a home run in his first big league at-bat, which came against Randy Johnson back at the original Yankee Stadium.
"It just amazed me," Granderson said. "This guy picked him out, not in uniform, and remembered that bit about him. That part is going to be probably the most interesting. People know it, they study it."
True to form, New York fans are already curious about one issue that hitting coach Kevin Long will tackle: Granderson's unimpressive splits against left-handed pitchers, who largely neutralized the dynamic outfielder this past season. Granderson hit all but two of his home runs off right-handers, batting just .183 in 180 at-bats against southpaws.
|"We're excited about what [Granderson] brings to the table -- his athleticism, his youth, his power and how it all relates to where we play. His personality, how people gravitate to him -- they're all pluses."|
|-- Yankees GM Brian Cashman|
"When it comes down to actual mechanical and mental changes that we have to make in the game, that's going to come over time, I think," Granderson said. "Having the chance to be around hitters that have proven to be consistent like [Derek] Jeter, [Mark] Teixeira, [Alex Rodriguez] ... hopefully, I can learn a lot."
The Yankees are also aware of an issue that popped up in September, when Granderson took some odd routes to fly balls. New York had three scouts pinned to Detroit, a potential playoff opponent, and said that the scouts are pleased with Granderson's defensive metrics and still happy with the deal.
With Granderson in center field, the Yankees can opt to shift Melky Cabrera to left field, with Nick Swisher set to return to right field. New York could also pursue either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, though a return engagement for either player would be on the franchise's financial terms.
Cashman's trip to Indianapolis has been fulfilling, as the GM now believes he is closer to putting the finishing touches on his 2010 roster.
Also on Wednesday, the Yankees announced a new one-year, $11.75 million contract for left-hander Andy Pettitte, and on Monday, the Yankees traded right-handed reliever Brian Bruney to the Nationals in exchange for Washington's first-round selection in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
There is one additional item to figure out. Granderson wore No. 28 with the Tigers, the digits manager Joe Girardi is interested in wearing to represent the franchise's pursuit of a 28th World Series championship.
Showing an early grasp of Yankees history, Granderson said with a laugh that he also knew he couldn't switch to No. 2 (Jeter) or No. 8 (retired for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra).
"It'll be interesting," Granderson said. "Of course, [Girardi's] the man. 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, I've played in other numbers before. It's just a number on the back. Whatever you do on the field hopefully will stand out more."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.