On December 8, 2009 the Yankees were part of the following three-team trade:
Yankees Austin Jackson
Phil Coke Curtis Granderson
Tigers Curtis Granderson
Edwin Jackson Austin Jackson
Diamonbacks Max Scherzer
Daniel Schlereth Ian Kennedy
There was some outcry because the Yankees were sending a young, exciting pitcher and one of the organization’s top prospects.
For in a lot of ways an outfielder in Granderson whom even though he showed power and speed (30 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2009), caused panic due to his paltry .327 on-base percentage, 141 strikeouts, and .183 batting average (180 at-bats) against left-handed pitchers that year.
Yet the Yankees felt the need to trade for him, meaning they knew something no one else did about Jackson. They had a hole in their outfield after deciding to move on from Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui just spent a year as the designated hitter (and the Yankees were also content with moving on from him), and they didn’t feel like Jackson was quite ready for the majors.
Now if one looked at the trade as a whole, the Tigers or the Yankees could be seen as the “winners” of the trade, but one would be hard-pressed to find a clear-cut winner.
After all, the Tigers did get themselves a Cy Young winner in Scherzer, a few solid and potential all-star seasons in Jackson, and Coke was a serviceable relief option who played a lot of games for the Tigers.
Specifically, Austin Jackson was arguably the Yankees’ top prospect after the 2009 season of which he hit .300/.354/.405 with 24 stolen bases for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Unlike the Yankees, Detroit believed Jackson was ready to be a major league player so after the trade they made him their starting center fielder.
Jackson rewarded their faith in him by hitting .293/.345/.400 with 27 stolen bases, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting for 2010. He lost out to then- Rangers closer, Neftali Feliz.
Jackson followed his strong 2010 campaign with two solid seasons in 2011, and 2012. In 2011, he won the Fielding Bible Award as MLB’s best defensive center fielder, but his hitting went down as he only slashed .249/.317/.349, though he did still manage to steal 20 bases.
While I’m sure many thought or hoped that his 2011 hitting was just a fluke, now it seems like it’s more on par with the norm for Jackson. 2012 though, saw his hitting come back to 2010 levels when he hit .300/.377/.479.
Unfortunately for Jackson, 2013 saw him catch the injury bug (limited to 129 games) as he hit a decent .272/.337/.417 but the speed was gone.
After only stealing 12 bases in 2012, Jackson only swiped eight bags in 2013. During the 2014 season, the Tigers traded Jackson to the Mariners after an underwhelming start to the season. He would then bounce around the Cubs and White Sox the following two seasons.
That being said, that leaves Granderson whom in his first season with the Yankees, Granderson slashed .247/.324/.468 with 24 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 136 games as the team’s starting center fielder.
His 2010 season was a slight disappointment, considering what the Yankees gave up for him, but luckily all hope was not lost then.
In 2011, Granderson’s had a breakout year, when he hit .262/.364/.552 (.916 OPS).
That year he slugged 41 home runs, drove in 119 runs (led MLB), and scored 136 runs (led MLB), so it’s no wonder why he finished fourth in MVP voting, earned All-Star honors and won a Silver Slugger that year.
He followed that 2011 season with an equally impressive 2012 when he hit 43 home runs and drove in 103 runs, even though his overall hitting dipped to .232/.319/.492.
Although Granderson would sign with the New York Mets a few seasons later, keep this in mind.
Yankees came out ahead in this trade because while they traded two strong seasons (one from Jackson and one from Kennedy) for 115 home runs and 307 RBI of Granderson.
There may not be a clear-cut winner, but almost everyone should agree that by focusing just on what the Yankees gave up and received, they come out quite ahead.
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