Tigers gauging Halos' interest in Granderson
Detroit entertaining talks about center fielder, Jackson
DETROIT -- The Angels have one of baseball's top annual infield prospects in Brandon Wood, a defensive shortstop in Maicer Izturis, and more depth in the infield. They have a speedy, versatile outfield prospect in Chris Pettit and some bullpen depth in Jose Arredondo.
Whether they have enough to turn that into a package for Curtis Granderson remains to be seen.
The Tigers and Angels have been in touch about Granderson's trade availability, according to Newsday, with the idea of making Granderson into a left fielder alongside Torii Hunter. The fit makes some sense for the Angels, who had a predominantly right-handed-hitting lineup, and possibly more sense than any other new home for Granderson, but it would up to the Tigers to decide whether it's ultimately a fit for them.
At this point, the Tigers are in listening mode, though it's apparently more active than passive. Coming out of baseball's GM Meetings earlier this week, when Granderson and Edwin Jackson apparently hit the trade market in terms of availability, the Tigers continue to gauge interest on players, though they're staying silent on talks. No deals are believed to be close, and probably won't be until the Tigers can gather as much interest as possible to see if they can get the package they want.
"[GM Dave Dombrowski] is in charge of that one," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in confirming their interest in Jackson. "They'll identify which clubs are matches and they'll call them. He's looking for young players and young pitchers."
The Angels have a situation with their own free agents, notably dangerous leadoff man Chone Figgins. His departure to another club would create a need for a leadoff hitter, but Granderson isn't nearly the style of player that Figgins is. If anything, Granderson more closely mirrors Hunter, a leadoff man in Minnesota early in his career.
Though Granderson has played center field his entire career, the idea of Granderson as a corner outfielder was expected to come up with clubs. The Tigers debated moving him a couple of years ago when Cameron Maybin, who some in the organization saw as stronger defensively, was seemingly closing on the big leagues.
The idea of playing left field probably wouldn't be a problem for Granderson, a friend of Hunter dating back to their days as AL Central rivals while Hunter was with the Twins. Granderson was one of many Tigers outfielders to get advice from Hunter, and has cited Hunter many times when talking about the challenge of playing center field in Comerica Park.
Granderson's past feelings about Angel Stadium are positive, with good reason. He's a .353 (30-for-85) career hitter at Angel Stadium, and his eight home runs in 21 games there are as many as he has hit anywhere other than Detroit. His 7-for-12, three-homer performance during Detroit's three-game series there in April was one of his two or three best series of the season, and included some solid defensive plays.
"The running turf is great," Granderson said of Angel Stadium in August. "It's like being on turf, but not as hard. It's extremely fast to move around. The ball's going to bounce around on the ground, but really doesn't take bad hops for the most part. I know the infielders, they say it's hard for them, but for me I know if it's coming through, it's going to stay down for the most part. And it's not that big. Center field right behind me is right at 400 [feet]."
Neither Granderson nor his agent, Matt Brown, have talked with the Tigers about his situation. Nor do they expect to hear anything unless a trade scenario further develops, Brown said Friday.
The Tigers, of course, would be more concerned with what teams have to offer for their All-Star center fielder. And any deal is expected to require young talent rather than extra pieces. Ironically, the Tigers outbid the Angels in terms of prospects when they acquired Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins two years ago.
But the Angels still have plenty of young talent, both currently with the big club and trying to crack the roster. Wood was a highly-touted prospect two years ago, having made his Major League debut that year. He hasn't stuck in the big leagues, but his hitting hasn't waned much in three seasons at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Primarily a shortstop coming up, Wood split last season between short and third base, and has the hitting potential for either position. The Tigers have a murky future at both spots, having seen a disappointing season from shortstop prospect Cale Iorg and having lacked a third-base prospect since 2002 first-round Draft pick Scott Moore struggled in their system. Brandon Inge, meanwhile, is up for free agency next winter.
Pettit is more of a corner outfielder than center fiender, but he emerged as a hitter this year with a .321 average, 30 doubles, eight homers and 58 RBIs at Salt Lake. He stole 18 bases in 20 attempts.
At the Major League level, there's Izturis, a strong defender in the middle infield who spent this year getting spot starts at second and short. However, he's eligible for free agency after next season, essentially making him a stopgap rather than a long-term fix. Given how critical fellow middle infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick were in the Angels' run to the ALCS, getting them would likely be difficult without more to offer.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.