The Bleacher Creatures need to start working on their Curtis Granderson greeting for the pregame roll call at Yankee Stadium. The first big move of the offseason was completed on Tuesday when the Yankees agreed to a three-way trade, pending medical approval, with the Tigers and Diamondbacks to bring Granderson to the Bronx for 2010 and beyond.
They'll send outfield prospect Austin Jackson and lefty reliever Phil Coke to the Motor City and faded pitching prospect Ian Kennedy to Arizona in exchange for Granderson, who hit 30 home runs for the Tigers last season. The Tigers also sent starter Edwin Jackson to Arizona in exchange for a couple of prospects. At first glance it looks like a pretty good deal for the Yankees.
Granderson will be 29 when the season gets underway and is signed to a deal that will pay him $25.75 million over the next three years. That's about what Johnny Damon is trying to get for two years and he's got seven years on Granderson. Damon was a significantly better offensive player than Granderson last season, but things were closer in 2008 and Granderson is leaving a tough offensive park in Detroit. A lefty with power can find the Stadium a very pleasing place, as Damon learned when he came to town in 2005, and Granderson's power rates could see a spike as a result.
That's not to say he isn't without his flaws. He struggles against lefties, strikes out too often and seemed to slip a bit defensively in 2009. Last year was, in fact, his worst season as a big leaguer which probably explains why the Yankees got him for two spare parts and a prospect who didn't have a particularly good season at AAA. He's a very good bet to rebound, especially now that he's hitting in the Bronx with a lineup that should allow him to move down in the order where he concentrate on producing runs and not on being a leadoff hitter.
Granderson's acquisition would seem to make a return engagement from Damon less likely, although it's probably too early to rule anything out. The lineup would list a bit too far to the left if both of them were everyday players, but Granderson's issues hitting lefties might make re-signing Damon and keeping Melky Cabrera as a fourth outfielder sliding between all three spots an option the Yankees wind up pursuing.
The deal has a lot in common with the one the Yankees made for Nick Swisher last year. When they dealt for Swisher, it was unclear exactly how they'd use him or what other moves they'd make before the rest of the season. What you did know was that they traded pieces they didn't need for an affordable player being sold low because he was coming off a bad year.
That turned into a big win for Brian Cashman, and this deal has the potential for even bigger payoffs.