|Looking to pare payroll in tough economic times, the Tigers parted ways with all-star center fielder Curtis Granderson, sending him to the Yankees, and righthander Edwin Jackson, sending him to the Diamondbacks. In exchange, Detroit acquired four young, cost-controlled players in the seven-piece deal with Arizona and New York.
Headed to the Tigers are prized outfield prospect Austin Jackson and lefty Phil Coke (from the Yankees) and power righthander Max Scherzer and lefty Daniel Schlereth (from the Diamondbacks). New York also shipped 24-year-old, Triple-A righthander Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks.
|Austin Jackson, cf
Age: 22. Position: CF (96 G), LF (25 G), RF (12 G).
Born: Feb. 1, 1987 in Denton, Texas.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Ryan HS, Denton, Texas.
Career Transactions: Selected by Yankees in eighth round of 2005 draft; signed June 22, 2005.
Jackson offers the Tigers an athletic center fielder who offers five big league average tools, though he’ll have to show more power than he did in Triple-A to get there. He brings his athleticism to bear defensively in center field, where he glides to balls with good range, and offensively, where he repeats his swing to produce gap power. He’s a tick-above-average runner underway who has improved his basestealing ability, and he has shown the ability to hit for average as a pro. Jackson’s arm strength is above average for center field and allows him to play right field, if necessary. If his power doesn’t come to the fore, he’ll have to make more consistent contact, and he could wind up as more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter.
|Max Scherzer, rhp
Born: July 27, 1984 in St. Louis.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in first round (11th overall) of 2006 draft … Signed by independent Fort Worth (American Association), 2007 … Signed by Diamondbacks, May 31, 2007.
Scherzer pitched in the American Association in 2007 (three starts) during his holdout dance with the Diamondbacks, but that had little impact on his arrival date in the big leagues. He made it to Phoenix to stay in 2009. With a fastball in the mid- to upper-90s and a sharp slider, he dominated at times. But his lack of feel for a changeup limits his upside. Lefthanded batters hit him for .265/.348/.444 averages this season. Of the National League pitchers who qualified for the ERA title this year, he ranked eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.19), one place ahead of teammate Dan Haren. Scherzer figures to augment Detroit’s array of power righthanders in the rotation, joining Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
|Daniel Schlereth, lhp
Born: May 9, 1986 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 210. Bats: L. Throws: L.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in first round (26th overall) of 2008 draft; signed July 16, 2008.
With a mid-90s fastball and a power curveball, Schlereth will be a welcome addition to the Tigers’ bullpen. He will be reunited in the Tigers bullpen with his college teammate from Arizona, Ryan Perry, who also was a first-round pick in 2007. The son of former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN commentator Mark Schlereth, Daniel was a draft-eligible sophomore after missing a year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He rocketed through the minors, pitching just 40 innings in 2008 and 2009 before joining the Diamondbacks’ bullpen last year. He was up for a stint in late May and early June, but got sent back down to Triple-A and then spent some time on the disabled list with a strained rib cage. Schlereth got called back up and stayed on the big league team from mid-August through the end of the year. The Tigers have several late-inning relief prospects in their system, but all of them are righthanders. Bobby Seay and Fu-Te Ni are the only two lefthanded relievers on Detroit’s roster, but neither can match Schlereth’s stuff.
|Phil Coke, lhp
Born: July 19, 1982 in Sonora, Calif.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 210. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) JC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Yankees in 26th round of 2002 draft; signed May 26, 2003.
Coke toiled without much success for five seasons until breaking out with Double-A Trenton in 2008. The Yankees rewarded him by calling him up that September and then keeping him around for all of 2009—including the postseason. Coincidentally, the first major league batter Coke faced actually was Granderson, whom he struck out. He features a low- to mid-90s fastball and a low-80s slider. He’ll also mix in the occasional changeup. Last year, he held lefties to a line of .195/.218/.366 over 133 plate appearances
|Ian Kennedy, rhp
Born: Dec. 19, 1984 in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Southern California.
Career Transactions: Selected by Yankees in first round (21st overall) of 2006 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2006.
Kennedy was routinely grouped with other Yankees pitching prospects Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes as future staples of the rotation, but it hasn’t worked out that way for the ’06 first-rounder. He breezed through the minors, making his big league debut at the end of the 2007 season. Kennedy got off to a horrible start the following year and was demoted to Triple-A at the end of May. Things went from bad to worse when doctors discovered an aneurysm in an artery near his right shoulder. He had surgery and made a quick recovery, completing 30 innings in the Arizona Fall League, where he went 2-1, 4.25 with 28 strikeouts and five walks for the Surprise Rafters. During his time in Arizona, Kennedy’s fastball sat at around 90 mph and topped out at about 93. Command is the name of the game—he throws four average pitches for strikes, working both corners with his heater and with his slider flashing plus at times.
|Edwin Jackson, rhp
Age: 26. Remaining Commitment: 2 arbitration-eligible years remain prior to free agency ($2.2 million in 2009).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
|Curtis Granderson, cf
Age: 28. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: 3 years, $23.75 million (plus $2 million buyout or $13 million option).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.