Tigers lock up outfielder Granderson with five-year, $30.25M deal

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers could have kept Curtis Granderson around for a while, retaining his talents with one-year
deals until he became eligible for free agency after the 2011

The Tigers, though, don't just wait around to make moves these

Granderson and baseball's busiest team agreed Monday to a $30.25
million, five-year contract that includes a club option for 2013
that could make the deal worth up to $43.25 million.

The deal was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

"The Tigers held all the chips and didn't have to do
anything," Granderson said. "I'm very happy with the way
everything happened."

Tigers president Dave Dombrowski is not known to give long-term
deals to players before they are even eligible for arbitration, but
Granderson merited an exception.

"What makes it different is the quality of player we're talking
about and his makeup as a person," Dombrowski said.

Manager Jim Leyland said it was "a great deal" for Granderson
and the Tigers.

"He's the kind of player we want, not only in terms of ability
but as a quality person," Leyland told The Associated Press.
"He's as good as it gets on and off the field."

Granderson had a breakout season last year, hitting .302 with 23
homers and 74 RBIs along with 38 doubles, 23 triples and 26 stolen
bases. He led the majors in triples with the highest total since Ty
Cobb had one more in 1917.

He joined Willie Mays and Frank "Wildfire" Schulte as the only
players in major league history with 20 steals, 20 homers, 20
triples and 20 doubles. Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins became
a part of the 20-20-20-20 club later in the season.

Schulte was the first to accomplish the feat in 1911 while
playing for the Chicago Cubs, and Mays did it in 1957 with the New
York Giants.

Granderson, who earned two degrees at the University of Illinois
at Chicago, has represented Major League Baseball as an ambassador
during the past two offseasons in Europe and Africa. The
Chicago-area native turns 27 on March 16.

In 373 games with the Tigers, he is hitting .280 with 50 homers,
162 RBIs, 232 runs, 76 doubles and 36 triples.

"Curtis is one of the top young players in the game,"
Dombrowski said.

Granderson is part of what has become an impressive team, which
is trying to go from good to great with an array of moves this
winter after assembling a strong franchise.

The Tigers traded for All-Stars Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Edgar Renteria along with Jacque Jones this winter. They
also re-signed Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones and Nate Robertson after
exercising their option Ivan Rodriguez's contract.

Detroit has improved dramatically in a short time, playing in
the 2006 World Series and contending for a spot in the playoffs
deep into last season not long after losing an AL-record 119 games
in 2003.

Granderson gets $1 million this year, $3.5 million in 2009, $5.5
million in 2010, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012. The
Tigers have a $13 million option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout.

Depending on criteria such as All-Star selection and postseason
awards, the price of the option could escalate to $15 million.

The Tigers used to rank in the middle of the pack in payroll,
but are now among the second-tier spenders trailing the New York Yankees.

"It's amazing from where we are from a few years ago in that
regard," Dombrowski said. "It all starts with the owner [Mike
Ilitch] and then, fan support allows you to increase your
expenditures. All the sudden, we're in a position to put together a
team like this.

"Now, we have to take care of business on the field."

Buster Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.