The New York Post's Joel Sherman heard from a National League executive (Lynn Henning in disguise?) that the Tigers are dangling Granderson around baseball, telling teams that he could be theirs in return for the right trade package. And as someone who covers the Yankees, Sherman believes the World Series champions might be extremely interested.
(via MLB Trade Rumors)
The Yankees will very likely have a vacancy in the outfield with Johnny Damon's contract expiring. And along with the seemingly imminent departure of Hideki Matsui, Sherman thinks Granderson would provide a much needed left-handed bat. Not to mention that he'd be an upgrade over Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner in centerfield.
Sherman did clarify in his report, however, that the Tigers don't want to trade Granderson or Jackson. But as we said in last night's post about Jackson, you can only trade players other teams want. And no one wants any of the bad contracts Detroit would love to shear off their bloated payroll. So if the Tigers need to make a deal to fit players they need under their budget, maybe it's worth checking out what other teams might offer in return.
What could be in this for the Tigers? If they want to shed some payroll, Granderson is scheduled to be paid $5.5 million next year (and $25.75 million over the next three seasons, with a $13 million option for 2013). Perhaps Detroit is also worried about his regression at the plate this season, especially against left-handed pitching, and just isn't sure he can turn it around.
Granderson hit .183/.245/.239 against lefties this year. (There's a word for that, and "good" isn't one of them.) He also had a .234 batting average in August and September combined. And while he did hit eight home runs in that same span (and 30 for the season), that's probably indicative of an approach far too inconsistent (and strikeout-prone) from someone expected to be one of the Tigers' best hitters. For the year, he batted .249/.327/.453.
But it's not just about the bat with Granderson. He provides excellent outfield defense (though it didn't look that way at times, late in the season), in arguably one of the more difficult centerfields to play in the majors. UZR ranks him among the top centerfielders in baseball.
That's not something easily replaceable. Especially when there don't appear to be any suitable replacements in the minors. (Maybe Casper Wells disagrees with that.) A replacement centerfielder might be part of the return trade package, of course. Sherman names Austin Jackson as a top prospect that the Yankees would presumably give up in a Granderson deal.
You're also talking about someone who's made an impressive effort to help out the local community. Granderson won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award for the work he's put in with his Grand Kids Foundation, as well as through the Detroit Tigers Foundation, to raise funds that help provide books, supplies, and athletic equipment to inner city schools in Detroit and throughout Michigan.
Those efforts might not be tireless, unfortunately, as Lynn Henning and Jim Leyland both raised concerns that Granderson wore himself down with his off-field work, and perhaps needs to devote more of his focus to baseball.
No, that charity work might not result in wins on the field (and ultimately, maybe that's what matters most). But you'd like to think that sort of thing goes a long way toward a team ingratiating itself with a community, and building some support and devotion among fans. Trading a player who's arguably the face of the team to many fans (especially the young ones Granderson helps) isn't something that should be taken lightly. Surely, the Tigers know that.
Once again, this raises the worst fears about next year's budget. What exactly are the Tigers looking to do? What figure are they looking at? On one hand, I'd like to say this is smart business, looking to see what a marketable young player might yield in return. On the other, it sends a pretty bad message to your fanbase.