Sources: Three-team deal near
The New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers are on the verge of the first major trade of baseball's winter meetings, a deal that would send Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson to New York, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The speedy Granderson would displace Melky Cabrera as center fielder on the Yankees. Cabrera, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, batted .274 last season with 13 homers, 68 RBIs and 10 steals. He could shift to left, depending on whether New York re-signs Johnny Damon or designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
Damon said Granderson's arrival doesn't necessarily signal the end of his days in the Bronx.
"I don't think it affects what I can still do. Either they come out and pursue me or they don't," Damon told the New York Post. "I still know how to play baseball and will make any team better."
In return, the Tigers would get a hard thrower in Scherzer and a well-regarded prospect in Austin Jackson, while the Diamondbacks would get a pair of starting pitchers in Edwin Jackson and Kennedy.
"There's a lot of noise out there. Clearly I can't speak to the noise," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Granderson, a left-handed batter, was a first-time All-Star last season, when he had 30 homers, 71 RBIs and 20 steals. His batting average has dropped from .302 in 2007 to .280 in 2008 to .249 last year.
Cashman spoke last weekend with Damon's agent, Scott Boras, and met Tuesday with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem. Cashman also met twice with Randy Hendricks, an agent for left-hander Andy Pettitte.
"You always want to get younger, especially when you have an older team," Cashman said before adding: "Just because somebody is younger doesn't mean they're actually better."
Detroit, which failed to make the playoffs following a late-season slide, may be looking to cut payroll after a big attendance drop this year at Comerica Park. Granderson is owed $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012, and his contract includes a $13 million club option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout.
Kennedy, who turns 25 on Dec. 19, impressed when he came up from the minors at the end of the 2007 season, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts. But he struggled with injuries in each of the last two seasons.
He strained a muscle near his right rib cage and had bursitis in his right shoulder blade in 2008, when he was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance. He pitched in just one big league game this year, when he was sidelined by surgery May 12 to remove an aneurysm from beneath his right biceps.
"We just went through a very rough season, and so for us to turn down any way to make our team better would be irresponsible," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said.
Coke was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 72 relief appearances. While he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the AL playoffs, he gave up two runs over 1 1/3 innings in the World Series.
Austin Jackson, 22, is considered one of the Yankees' top prospects. He hit .300 last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with 23 doubles, four homers, 65 RBIs and 24 steals.
Scherzer, the 11th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, is a 25-year-old righty who went 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts for Arizona last season, striking out 174 in 170 1/3 innings.
Schlereth, a 23-year-old lefty, was the 26th pick in the 2008 amateur draft. He made his major league debut this year and went 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 21 relief appearances with 22 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. He is the son of former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth.
Edwin Jackson was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA this year and is eligible for salary arbitration after making $2.3 million, including $100,000 in performance bonuses. He can become a free agent after the 2011 season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.