While the New York Yankees have a healthy crop of prospect outfielders in their farm system, it is evident this aging team is one big Curtis Granderson or Ichiro Suzuki injury away from losing offense in a competitive AL East.
With frugal leadership in a tough economy, could the Yankees find a trading partner in the Detroit Tigers to infuse talent and youth into New York's outfield corps?
It has happened before.
In December 2009, Detroit traded Granderson to the Yankees for Austin Jackson and Phil Coke as part of a larger three-team deal. In this deal, the Tigers also got starter Max Scherzer and reliever Daniel Schlereth from the Arizona Diamondbacks (in exchange for Edwin Jackson).
In retrospect, this trade backfired on the Yankees.
Jackson, Coke and Scherzer were all part of the 2012 Tigers team that swept Grandy and the Yankees in the ALCS.
With a bitter taste left in the mouths of Yankees’ nation, it is understandable for the emotional to run the opposite direction from any trade proposal the Tigers make.
But times change. Needs change. And stripping all emotion, the Tigers have big league outfielders who could help the Yankees for low cost.
Currently, the Tigers' starting outfield corps includes Jackson in center field, Andy Dirks in left and newly acquired star Torii Hunter in right. The Tigers also have Avisail Garcia, who figures heavily into Detroit’s future plans.
Another player the Tigers love is Nick Castellanos. Envisioned to be Detroit’s third baseman of the future prior to Prince Fielder’s arrival, Castellanos shifted to outfield last summer, so he can possibly make the 25-man roster in 2013.
Should Garcia and Castellanos hit well come spring training, three pretty good Tiger outfielders may be available to the Yankees (if not sooner).
Brennan Boesch may be the first victim to depart from the Tigers. His name has been mentioned several times this winter in trade talks.
Boesch is a very tough player to decipher. He has good talent, but looks like a guy who at times looks like he is struggling to find his niche in the big leagues.
Entering his fourth season with the Tigers, Boesch is a career .259 hitter with 42 home runs and 175 RBI.
Do not let Boesch’s low power numbers fool you. He does not have Miguel Cabrera- or Prince Fielder-type pop to frequently overcome the monster yard that is Comerica Park, but Boesch has a nice left-handed swing and has shown the ability to hit some monster shots.
Yankees Stadium may be a nice fit for Boesch, who would be a nice low-cost option for the pinstripes.
28-year-old outfielder Quintin Berry would be a terrific option for the Yankees for two reasons.
First, Berry is an electric player with a scrappy bat, good speed and excellent defensive skills. He batted .306 through June as a rookie in 2012.
But then Berry endured a post-All-Star slump that impacted his stock. But what Berry lacked in offense, he made up for with some spectacular catches in the outfield.
Second, Berry is a solid character and a fierce competitor. He is also a mature family man who has the mental toughness to handle the rigors of playing for the Yankees.
If the Yankees' front office were smart, they would start pinging the Tigers for this guy. He has the heart of a champion.
And given the wealth of talent the Tigers have in the outfield, it would be unfair for Detroit to not find this guy a more permanent home.
Football fans have heard of quarterback controversies.
But what about outfielder controversies?
This may happen in Detroit if Berry outclubs speedy outfielder Andy Dirks in spring training.
If this happens, Dirks may end up being another nice option for the Yankees.
It is hard to see the Tigers dealing Dirks. But if the right opportunity came along, the Tigers could let him go. Dirks was on the edge of a breakout year in 2012 before he landed on the 60-day disabled list in June.
Regardless, Dirks returned to bat .322 (101-for-314) in 88 games.
Now entering his third season, this 26-year-old is a career .293 hitter with 15 home runs and 63 RBI in 166 games.
While not the base-stealing threat Berry is, Dirks is a quality outfielder with good speed and a solid arm. Like Boesch and Berry, Dirks may present the Yanks a nice left-handed bat as the team looks to add youth.
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