The Granderson Rumor

Over the last couple of days, the rumor mill has flared up in Detroit, suggesting that the Tigers were open to moving Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson in the right deals. The rationale offered for making them available would be cost reduction, as the Tigers have a bloated payroll and are more vulnerable to the current economic climate than most clubs. With Justin Verlander eligible for arbitration, their payroll isn’t going down without making some moves.

But, let’s just take a step back and evaluate the rumor on its face – the Tigers are looking to reduce their costs by trading Granderson, who is owed a whopping $5.5 million in salary in 2010? Really? The actual cost savings, once you factor in that they have to replace him, would be in the low single millions, or about the same amount as they could get by just non-tendering Gerald Laird.

To save a few million bucks, the Tigers are going to give up one of the best values in baseball? Keep in mind, Granderson has been worth an average of $19.4 million over the last four years, and never less than $14 million. He’s a +4 win player under the age of 30. He’s essentially the equal in value of John Lackey, just without all the injury risks, and he’s due a total of $36 million over the next four years.

This is a franchise that just let Magglio Ordonez’s $18 million option for 2010 vest in pursuit of a playoff spot. Now, we’re supposed to believe that they’re going to turn around and ship off one of the game’s best center fielders to save a fraction of what they wasted on Maggs?

This just doesn’t pass the smell test. Granderson is a star and a massive bargain. When you’re cutting costs, you don’t start with the guy producing the highest return on investment on the roster. It doesn’t make any sense.

There’s merit to trading Edwin Jackson while his ERA is still shiny and he’s not overly expensive. There’s logic behind that. There’s no logic behind trading Curtis Granderson unless you’re getting a monstrous package of talent in return. And that wouldn’t be a cost savings decision, but instead a talent decision.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers trimmed payroll this winter, but I’d be stunned if Granderson was traded. Unless some team is going to take every bad contract the Tigers have with him, he’s more valuable to them as a player than as trade bait.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Matt Klaassen
14 years ago

Thanks for writing this, Dave. Dead one When I heard the Granderson rumor, I thought the same thing, but decided it was so insane there must be some angle I was missing.