The Yankees, as they should, generally have a good idea of what they’re going to try and accomplish in the offseason. While some moves seem to happen pretty quickly, the foundation for most transactions are laid ahead of time. I spend a good chunk of my free time scouring Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Baseball-Reference, and Frangraphs, and I only write for this site in my free time. I can only imagine how much work the actual Yankee brass do to prepare themselves.
So what am I getting at? If you look at the Yankees’ 40-man roster decisions, they moved a good number of players onto their 40-man roster, mostly infielders. Before the Granderson trade, the Yankees had 39 on the 40-man to be exact. Why is that noteworthy? Well, not included in those 39: Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jerry Hairston, Eric Hinske, and Jose Molina. Obviously most of those players probably won’t be back, but everyone expects the Yankees to replace them somehow. If they were planning to do that solely through free agency, the Yankees would have to send someone on their 40-man through waivers, which completely defeats the point of protecting them from the Rule V draft to begin with.
So I think you know what I’m getting at by now: the Yankees knew, even back on November 20th, that they were going to make a trade. Now with Curtis Granderson on board, they’ve filled on of those spots, while at the same time bringing the 40-man down to 37. They could sign Pettitte, an outfielder, and a bench player without going over.
The thing is though, the Yankees might want to add more than that (a DH? A reliever?), so I think there is a pretty good chance that another trade may be in the works. Also keep in mind that they will likely use a spot on whatever player they get in the Rule V draft as compensation for the Brian Bruney trade.
What could that trade be? Well, Granderson isn’t nearly as valuable a player if he’s in left instead of center, so really the Yankees have 3 centerfielders on the roster right now. One of them should probably go. Melky Cabrera has more trade value than Brett Gardner, but he also has more potential. Remember, he’s actually younger than Gardner and is a switch-hitter that has developed a little bit of power. Gardner, however, has one thing he does better than anyone – speed – and that’s a useful thing for a bench player.
If I had to guess, I bet Melky gets moved, perhaps along with one of their infield prospects, in a deal to bring in pitching or a corner outfielder.
Other thoughts on the Granderson trade:
– Many people have speculated that the acquisition of Granderson could mean the end of Johnny Damon‘s tenure in NY. I think there is truth to that sentiment, but the most common reasoning is because Granderson is an outfielder; really though, that has little to do with it. Granderson is replacing Melky Cabrera, in terms of position. The reason he makes Damon expendable is because he offers the same skills offensively: he has a similar blend of power and speed (though more of both) and bats left-handed. If the Yankees bring Damon back to play left and DH, which is certainly still reasonable, it would leave the Yankee lineup very left-handed.
– I’ve seen a couple tweets come in from sportswriters suggesting that the Yankees should sign Reed Johnson in response to Granderson’s lefty/righty splits. Obviously I agree; I was petitioning for Reed Johnson in my platoon post a couple days ago.
– In terms of the actual deal itself: if the Yankee scouts and talent evaluators don’t think Austin Jackson will be a star – and I mean a real star (think Beltran or better) then the Yankees absolutely have to make the deal. From everything I’ve read, the Yankees were hoping for Jackson to become a player similar to Granderson. So essentially, the Yankees traded Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy to get the sure thing, immediately. Phil Coke, while a nice player to have around, had homerun rates far too high to trust in a high leverage situation. Ian Kennedy, also a nice chip to have, was never going to make it as a starter in the AL East.
– This trade also reminds me of the Swisher deal last year. Granderson is coming off a season that was a bit fluky – he still had lots of power (30 HRs – he could hit 40 in Yankee Stadium) but his BABiP was low and consequently his BA and OBP dropped. Chances are, those numbers will bounce back (like Swisher’s did). Granderson also simply had a poor start to the season last year (I should know; he was on my fantasy team and I had to bench him). So really the Yankees are buying low on Granderson. Would this type of package have ever landed him a year or two ago?
As for Phil Coke, he’s the same deal but the opposite way. It’s clear that Girardi lost faith in him down the stretch and a season next year of Coke becoming more of a 6th inning pitcher than an 8th inning pitcher will only make his value drop. Similarly, Jackson and Kennedy were not going to get enough time next season at the big league level to really be able to expand their value.