Curtis Granderson could be the centerpiece of a three-team deal that would bring the all-star centerfielder to the Yankees. Various news agencies are reporting that the deal has been agreed to in principle – Granderson would go from Detroit to New York, while Yankee prospects would disperse – AAA centerfielder Austin Jackson would head to Detroit along with lefty reliever Phil Coke, one-time top prospect Ian Kennedy would head to Arizona, where he would be joined by Detroit starter Edwin Jackson – giving the Diamondbacks a pretty solid rotation, and two D-Back arms, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth would join the Tigers.
Let’s do this by team. The Yankees have to deal with the potential free agency losses of both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Granderson would likely move Melky Cabrera to left (Cabrera might be a better centerfielder these days, though) letting Damon find a new home. The thinking is that the overall outfield defense would improve (either Cabrera or Granderson in left is an upgrade over Damon), and Granderson would at least maintain the offense provided by Damon. Except that Damon has hit pretty well and Granderson hit .249 last year – his second straight year of decline after breaking through in 2007. What might be a concern is the Yankees dropping a couple of useful relievers (Coke, Bruney) – but it might be that Chamberlain is going back to the bullpen, especially if the Yankees land a starter in the next several weeks.
Arizona loses a blue-chipper in Max Scherzer, who looked VERY promising in 2009, and Daniel Schlereth, who has a nice arm but needs to deal with control issues. However, if Edwin Jackson is as good as he looked for the first four months of 2009 (he slipped as the year ended) and Ian Kennedy stays healthy (he looked great in the Arizona Fall League and appears to be ready), the Diamondbacks could be REALLY solid in the rotation. Webb (hopefully) , Haren, Jackson, Kennedy is potentially as strong as anybody.
Detroit unloads a lot of salary in Granderson (two more years at $23 million). Jackson was due for arbitration on the heels of a fine season. So, adding Scherzer – who, frankly, looks to be better than Jackson moving forward – also cuts the salary back without necessarily hurting the team. Austin Jackson was a Yankee prospect who appears to be Melky Cabrera – fast, a slashing hitter but not a ton of power – and now appears to be a leading candidate for the centerfield job. He won’t provide Granderson’s offense (even in an off-season, Granderson does take a walk and hits for serious power), but he could match his defense. The net change may be 30 runs, but we’ll see. Adding Coke and Schlereth gives the Tigers a much deeper pen and a potential future closer if Joel Zumaya never gets going again.
It’s hard to call the Yankees a winner in this deal – I think it’s a bit of a wash, really, though they get younger in the outfield. I don’t like giving up all these arms – but the Yankees do have other options, and they have some money left to spend. Detroit might take a slight step back in terms of offensive production, but the extra arms might make up for it and Scherzer could wind up being AWESOME (!) and giving them a second ace. They get some money back that can be used for other holes. In Arizona’s case, they have a couple of ifs (if Jackson can repeat, if Kennedy stays healthy and produces) and gave away what I thought was a solid future ace. So, my early take is that the Tigers got the best of the deal, the Yankees are second, and Arizona is third – but could wind up being a surprise winner. We’ll see.
Rafael Soriano accepted an arbitration offer from the Braves – despite the fact that Atlanta added two potential closers to the roster. Ryan Church was released to make room on the roster for the 2009 closer. [ESPN]
Carl Pavano also accepted arbitration from the Twins – Boof Bonser will be asked to hit the road or head to the minors. [ESPN]
Mark Teahan signed a three year, $14 million deal with the White Sox, avoiding arbitration. [SI]
Florida pinch hitter deluxe, Ross Gload, joins the Phillies. My friend, Gio, will be saddened. Gload got a two-year deal. [MLB]
MLB is getting serious in their baseball coverage. Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN to join the MLB Network and add his writing skills to a growing online news presence. Gammons joined ESPN in 1989… [MLB]
One-time MEGA prospect, Todd Van Poppel, turns 38 today.
Others celebrating with cards, cake, or remembrances include: Cy Seymour (1872), Joe DeMaestri (1928), Bob (Hurricane) Hazle (1930), Darold Knowles (1941), Del Unser (1944) – one of my favorites as a kid because I thought he was related to Al Unser, but I was wrong, Doc Medich (1948), Steve Christmas (1957), Juan Samuel (1960), Tony Tarrasco (1970), Tony Batista (1973), and Eric Stults (1979).
Mark Buehrle bid $10,000 to manage the Cardinals for a day in spring training – and will use the opportunity to present his prize to a young girl (Mickey Cunningham) with Down’s Syndrome and her mother. Very cool! (Tony LaRussa matched Buerhle’s donation.)