Yankees Acquire Curtis Granderson
In a three team trade this afternoon, the defending champions traded CF Austin Jackson, SP Ian Kennedy and RP Phil Coke for centerfielder Curtis Granderson.
This trade basically came down to did the Yankees feel that Austin Jackson would eventually be as good as Curtis Granderson is now? Since they made the trade, I assume they believe that Jackson will not reach that level.
While losing Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke will be sad, they are completely expendable trade pieces to a team like the Yankees. Phil Coke is a decent left-handed relief option, but will probably be remembered first for allowing two home runs in one World Series inning. Coke proved to be very home run prone in the major leagues, which is a trait that nearly always spells trouble for a pitcher. Losing him is of no import as the Yankees have several arms that can step in and do just as good a job as Phil Coke, beginning with Mike Dunn and Zach Kroenke.
Ian Kennedy was starting pitching depth and not much more. He used to be a highly-rated prospect for the Yankees, but has had performance and injury problems. He has four pitches and decent command, but doesn’t project to be a huge asset in the AL East. In the NL West though, he’ll be a serviceable back-of-the-rotation arm for the Diamondbacks. The Yankees have some starting pitching depth and can choose to replace Kennedy with a similar player when they choose first in the Rule 5 draft later this week.
So Austin Jackson is the only player dealt by the Yankees in this deal that they foresaw playing a large role for them moving forward. While he was the second-best position player in the Yankees system behind catcher Jesus Montero, Jackson has never projected to be a superstar player, but rather a solid contributing regular.
Granderson has poor platoon splits against lefties, but I’ll gamble on him if all I have to give up is an Austin Jackson and a couple of spare parts. This is a trade where the Yankees are trading something that could be for something that is. Jackson has had modest success in the minor leagues. Granderson has had that same success, but at the major league level. Granderson is a fine centerfielder and I’ll trust my hitting coach to work with Granderson on his lefty struggles.
As a Yankee fan, I’m all for this trade. The chances that Austin Jackson develops into the player that Curtis Granderson is are moderate at best. The same can be said for the chances of Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy playing major roles for the Yankees in the next few years. Brian Cashman’s approach for the bullpen in the past few years has been to collect a ton of options and find the most successful ones. If he feels that he’s got better arms than Phil Coke, then I agree.
Granderson is under contract for reasonable money until 2013, not that money is ever really an issue for the Yankees. From all reports he’s a great personality that will fit in well with the attitude and persona that the Yankees have started to build the past few years. His drop in production in 2009 is similar to Nick Swisher’s drop in 2008 – a lower BABIP and a higher fly ball rate. A simple market correction in his BABIP will help his numbers bounce back and moving from a pitcher friendly park to one that seems to play well for left-handed batters will undoubtedly help Granderson.
Obtaining Granderson is probably only the beginning of the Yankees offseason moves. They still have some issues in their starting rotation, and will probably start to address that with Andy Pettitte here in the next few weeks and then maybe add another veteran arm – Ben Sheets, Joel Piniero or someone similar. They still have to make a decision regarding Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, but those are less pressing needs now with Granderson on board.
This trade makes the Yankees significantly better moving forward, and shouldn’t that be the most important factor when making a trade?