On December 8, 2009, Detroit Tigers fans were shocked to learn that the team's most likable player, Curtis Granderson, had just been traded to the New York Yankees in a 7-player, 3-team deal that also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time, it looked like a deal of the rich getting richer, with the Yankees picking up the All-Star Granderson.
However, three seasons later, and this trade has been a somewhat win-win situation for every team involved.
Sure, the Yankees got a huge upgrade in center field, and Granderson has lived up to his billing in New York, nearly winning the MVP in 2011 and being among the league leaders in home runs each of the last few seasons. But this deal was about more than just Granderson and the Yankees.
The Arizona Diamondbacks picked up a couple of solid pieces in this trade as well, pulling in Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in the trade. Jackson would last only 21 games in a Diamondbacks uniform before they in turn traded the vagabond to Chicago in exchange for Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg. At 20-years-old, Holmberg is still at Double-A, but has shown some promise. Meanwhile Hudson and Kennedy were instrumental in leading the D-Backs into the postseason in 2011, with Hudson winning 16 games in his first full season and Kennedy nearly taking home the Cy Young after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA, 198 strike-outs, and a WAR of 4.7. 2012 has been a bit of a regression for both, with Hudson having Tommy John Surgery in July and Kennedy still contributing 12 wins despite an ERA of 4.39. Clearly the D-Backs did pretty well in this trade.
However, the true winners of this deal were the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers received a bevy of players in this deal, pulling in Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke, Austin Jackson, and Max Scherzer. And while Schlereth and Coke have become important pieces for the Tigers in their bullpen, the true rewards in the deal have been Jackson and Scherzer.
After finishing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, Austin Jackson suffered a disappointing sophomore campaign that saw regression nearly across the board. However, whatever he suffered through in 2011 made him a much better player in 2012. He's has established or is on pace to surpass career highs in almost all offensive categories, including home runs, RBI, Triples, OPS, WAR, and Runs Scored. He's also been locked in close combat with Mike Trout for honors of being the best defensive center fielder in baseball in 2012.
But wait, Jackson wasn't even the complete prize of the trade. That honor goes to Max Scherzer.
The hard throwing right hander has become a complete horse of a pitcher over the last three seasons, perfectly complimenting his teammate Justin Verlander at the top of the Tiger rotation. After winning 15 games in 2011, Scherzer has already tied that mark in 2012, but in the process, has dropped his ERA nearly 60 points to 3.85 and an American League leading 213 strike-outs over 170.2 innings pitched. That is an oustanding 11.2 K/9 rate!
Now, Scherzer is an all-or-nothing type of pitcher and can be inconsistent at times. That will prevent him from evolving to the plateau of Verlander. However, his growth in the last few seasons shows that he is capable of being a number two or three starter in this league and be a stopper when his team really needs him to be. At 28-years-old, Scherzer is right where the Tigers want him in terms of development and he has the benefit of not having logged a single season with more than 200 innings pitched, meaning that he isn't in a position to break down any time soon.
All this points to the Tigers continuing to get a big bang from their buck.