The Big Trade

It wouldn’t be the winter meetings without a big three way trade. This one is pretty substantial.

As the reports stand, here’s who is trading places.

To New York Yankees: Curtis Granderson
To Detroit Tigers: Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke
To Arizona Diamondbacks: Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy

From the Yankees perspective, this deal is almost too good to be true. Heading into his age 29 season, Granderson is a legitimate +4 win center fielder signed to a bargain contract for the next four years. I ranked him as the 22nd most valuable asset in terms of trade value in baseball over the summer, and the Yankees are getting him for a variety pack of role players. He instantly makes their team better, giving them a legitimate all-star center fielder who should thrive in Yankee Stadium. For as much as the Yankees have a payroll advantage, they continue to win because Brian Cashman targets the right players. Granderson is a fantastic acquisition for them.

From the Tigers perspective, this deal makes some sense, even though they’re giving up the premier player in the trade. Scherzer is a terrific arm, ranking 44th on my trade value series. He’s a quality pitcher who has five years left of team control, giving the Tigers a frontline starter on the cheap who will be in Detroit for the foreseeable future. Jackson should be a decent player, though not a star, and could hold down center field for the league minimum. Schlereth and Coke strengthen the bullpen.

The Tigers aren’t as good today as they were yesterday, but they did manage to shed some payroll and still have a premium young player under team control for significant years. I’d rather have Granderson than Scherzer, but considering the cost differences, this deal makes some sense for Detroit.

Arizona, though… what a mess. Jackson and Kennedy will shore up their rotation, but they aren’t worth a kid as good as Max Scherzer. Jackson’s a mid-rotation starter whose salaries are escalating in arbitration, while Kennedy is a back-end starter who missed most of 2009. They didn’t get better, they didn’t save money, and they didn’t get younger. This move is just not a good one for the D’Backs, unless there’s another impressive piece going to Arizona that hasn’t been reported.

A+ for the Yankees, who continue to show that they know what they’re doing. Not a bad deal for Detroit, who needed to save some cash. But man, I’m sorry for D’Backs fans, who just saw their team screw up.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

327 Comments
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RKO36
12 years ago

Just a few hours ago I didn’t want this deal to happen, but now I’m warming up on it. You’re a lot more enthusiastic than me. It’s hard to watch one of your team’s top prospects be traded, but like you said Granderson is a 4 win 28 year old center fielder. I guess this is a good move for the Yankees.

RKO36
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Yeah. I guess you’re right. And I was just thinking that Granderson is a better option than resigning Damon. Younger and cheaper. They can play him in center and Melky in left.

JD Sussman
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

They won’t play Melky in left. That would be a complete fail.

Tom B
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Moving Melky to right field and playing Swisher in left would be much more intelligent.

CasanovaWong
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Melky has 10x the range of Swisher. Putting him in the tiny YSII Rf because he has a better arm than swish would be very very dumb. Yankee Stadium left field is gigantic and Melky would be much better suited there. Range is much more important than arm strength.

Steve
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Swisher improved his arm fairly drastically this season.

yes, this is based on nothing more than my eyes, but it was a pretty dramatic improvement.

how? he started working with the pitching coach.

Tom B
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Right center is anything but tiny in YS, and if having a guy with better range and a better arm over there means the CF can shade towards left, to help the left fielder cover the canyon, this can only help.

David MVP Eckstein
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

More information in the name link, but here’s how i rank the trade by team:

The Tigers
The Tigers by far got the best end of this deal. Seeking to shed payroll, fill in some bullpen holes, and acquire cheap, young talent, the Tigers traded away one of the games best value players (Granderson) who plays a mean CF in terms of both offense and defense, in addition to a soon-to-be 27 year old hard-throwing right-handed SP (Jackson) who over-performed last year and generally has below average, but improving control, no strikeout talent and two years left until he reaches free agency. In exchange, the Tigers received four quality players and met each of their goals. The prize of the Tigers’ acquisition was Max Scherzer, a soon-to-be 26 year old, hard-throwing right-handed SP (Scherzer) with high strikeout talent, above-average control and three, possibly four, more years of team control before he becomes arbitration eligible. If Scherzer does not qualify for super-two status next offseason, the Tigers will end up paying a better-than-Jackson SP less than $1 million, while Jackson probably makes at least $10 million over that same time frame. In addition to Scherzer, the Tigers also acquired two relievers: Phil Coke, a solid and above average RP who limited the walks and struck out more batters than the league average while playing in the AL East last year, from the Yankees and Daniel Schlereth, a closer-of-the-future kind of RP with great stuff and questionable control, from the Diamondbacks. Considering that Lyons and Rodney are free agents, this gives the team more leverage when dealing with Brandon Lyon and a viable set of cheap, late-inning relievers for the Tigers. The Tigers also got Austin Jackson, one of the Yankee’s top prospects, who profiles as a league-average (or better) hitting CF with great speed and range to replace Granderson. At just 22 years old, Jackson has a lot of upside and 6 years of major league control left to his name.

Conclusion: The Tigers accomplished everyone of their team’s goals with this trade. They shed payroll, replaced semi-expensive players with cheap replacements, filled bullpen holes and upgraded their starting rotation.

The Yankees
The Yankees also made out big with this trade. With Johnny Damon departing to free agency and 4th OFs Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner and not-quite-ready CF prospect Austin Jackson left to fill both center and left fields, the Yankees were in search of one, if not two, outfielders. Although you can never discount the Yankees getting involved in the Matt Holliday/Jason Bay sweepstakes, this helps the team fill up centerfield at a great value and it gives the team a lot more negotiating leverage against Scott Boras and his clients (Damon, Holliday). Granderson is without a doubt an all around upgrade over the aging and expensive Damon and if the Yankees can clobber everyone on their way to a world series title with Damon in left and Cabrera/Gardner, I see no reason why they can’t do it with Granderson in center and Cabrera/Gardner in left. With Granderson, the Yankees acquired a not-cheap, but not-expensive player with some of the best all around tools in the game (walks, hits for power, quality range, average arm) and probably have plenty of money left over — especially if they let Damon walk — to make another big free agency splash while keeping the payroll under the 2008 mark. And what did it cost them? None of their core young talent (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Mike Dunn, or Francisco Cervelli). Just a slightly above average, but still useful reliever (Phil Coke) and a starting pitcher with no room on the roster and more hype than true talent (Ian Kennedy, aka “the next Greg Maddux”).

Conclusion: The Yankees got what they needed — a quality outfielder and leverage in the free agency market — at a great value in terms of both $ cost and players traded

The Diamondbacks
Oh boy, where to begin. The Diamondbacks got ripped off. They traded away a young, cheap ace pitcher and high talent potential closer of the future and bought high on a hard-throwing (but improving) SP (Jackson) who over-performed last season and has at least two less years of team control to his name in addition to a brand name minor leaguer with limited “success” at any level of play since 2007. For a guy who is supposed to be “the next Greg Maddux, he needs to start limiting the walks (his career major-league equivalent BB/9 is 3.95). Kennedy is still relatively young (soon-to-be 26) and has been getting better at the strikeouts in AAA, but he’s entering his “prime years” and has yet to show any significant major league success.

Conclusion: Kennedy may provide the Diamondbacks with a quality arm, but the risk inherent in him putting it all together (in addition to the probable regression from Jackson, a pitcher who outperformed his peripherals last year and also has a four year trend of increasing FB tendencies) makes trading away a cheap stud like Scherzer and high ceiling reliever like Schlereth an unwise gamble.

____

All in all, it’s not like anyone expected the Diamondbacks to contend in 2010 anyways. Perhaps the team, realizing this, decided to take the long-term risk with Kennedy (who the Yankees had no room for), while gaining another arm (Jackson), who, in addition to Webb, the team can unload for some quality prospects to a contender come July. The Tigers and Yankees won big on this deal and the Diamondbacks took on a whole lot of unnecessary risk (and some salary), to which I call them the unequivocal losers of the deal.

CasanovaWong
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Tom B, Why wouldn’t you just out the guy with the better range in LF?? That doesn’t make any sense to put the weaker fielder in the bigger part of the field and then move the CF over so he can help.

Tom B
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

considering the speed of the CF’s we’re dealing with here, LF is not “that” big… Swisher used to play CF so it’s not like he would be inept in LF. The plus arm is best served in RF stopping guys from going 1st to 3rd. He would cover just as must ground laterally in RF as he did in CF, so it cuts down the RF gap even more because he can play farther from the 1B line. Swisher did play CF he is more than capable of covering LF in Yankee Stadium.

PL
12 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Wow dave, you sure so think highly of a guy who OPSd 400-something against left handed pitching last year and has declined with both bat and glove over the last 3 years. You must be the source of Grandersons ridiculous over-rating, thats a bummer.