Funny how fast perceptions can change.
In 2010, the season after the three-way megatrade between the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks, Detroit was getting so many of the rave reviews, after a sensational rookie season by Austin Jackson.
Then the following year, Jackson suffered the typical sophomore slump, Granderson learned how to hit left-handed pitching and set career highs in home runs (41) and RBIs (119), and New York assumed the crown.
And finally in 2012, Jackson had an impressive bounceback year, while Granderson slipped and his whiffs ballooned, and we’re back to Square 1.
In reality, the trade worked out so well for all three teams, which boast a combined six playoff appearances the past three seasons.
But the Yankees, well, they are a’changing — and now have to deal with the previously unthinkable edict to get the payroll under control, specifically below the $189 luxury-tax threshold, by Opening Day 2014.
And so they have some tough decisions to make. One, amazingly, could be trading Granderson.
There are a couple reasons it makes sense. For starters, the Yankees suffered a big blow Monday when it was announced hip surgery would keep third baseman Alex Rodriguez out for much, if not all, of next season. A Granderson trade could help fill a void, as the free-agent pool for third basemen is so shallow, they’ve actually considered Stephen Drew — who, by the way, has never played third base in the major leagues or minors.
Granderson, 31, also is entering the final year of a contract he signed while he was a Tiger. He’s due to make $15 million in 2013.
Here’s the kicker: Shortstop Derek Jeter, who’s still an impact player at 38, could be a free agent next offseason — assuming he declines his $8 million player option, which is $9 million less than he’ll make this coming season — and second baseman Robinson Cano will be a free agent next winter.
And the reality is, with Alex Rodriguez’s mega-deal handcuffing the payroll through 2017, the Yankees can’t afford to keep all three. Of those three, Granderson would have to be the odd man out.
Jeter will retire a Yankee, just not next year; and Cano is poised to become the new face of the franchise.
So Granderson is expendable, especially considering he’ll be getting a fat deal when he hits the open market. Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent the same time, and is the only outfielder who stacks up.
And since so many of you already have asked, no, I don’t see the Tigers being a fit, at least not in a trade for Granderson — which would require a much bigger haul than just shortstop Jhonny Peralta (who could fill in at third for the Yankees) and a Double-A’er. When the Tigers give up big prospects, they don’t do so for a player set to hit free-agency.
Now, next winter could be a different story, especially if Andy Dirks regresses, leaving Detroit a gaping hole in the outfield.
Boy, what a reunion that would be. Tigers fans never did completely let Granderson go.
Stunningly, the Yankees might actually be about to.