Editor's Note: Nothing says playoff baseball like the MLB hot stove. The only thing more amusing than fans playing GM is when beat writers do it. Usually they do it with more pizazz and insight than Joe Blogger -- myself included. Hot Stove Hopefuls highlights some of the hot names on the market and tries to find a spot for them on the Cubs.
Today's feature: Curtis Granderson.
Player: Curtis Granderson (baseball-reference.com bio page)
Current Team: Detroit Tigers
Contract Details: 3 years, $23.75 million remaining on a five-year deal worth $30.25 million when signed in February 2008 (plus $13 million club option for 2013)
Publication: "The Tigers need help, possibly lots of it. There are better ways to acquire necessary players than to trade your leadoff batter and center fielder, but the Tigers may have no choice if the right package is offered.
Granderson has the kind of clout (30 HRs, eight 3Bs, 23 2Bs, 20 SBs) and manageable contract that could make him, at age 28, a player capable of bringing a significant return on a trade. A blue-chip relief pitcher and middle infielder, perhaps, with maybe a replacement-level center fielder as part of a possible two-player acquisition for Detroit."
Source: Lynn Henning, Detroit News
The Blue Island, Ill., native might be exactly what manager Lou Piniella is looking for in an offseason acquisition. Granderson has averaged 25 home runs, 29 doubles and 14 triples over the last three years out Detroit's lead-off spot. With a career OPS of .828, Granderson is only two years removed from a remarkable 20-20-20-20 season in which he collected at least 20 homers, doubles, triples and stolen bases.
Granderson would clearly improve the Cubs' outfield defense with his presence in center field. The move could also move Kosuke Fukudome to his natural position in right field. Offensively, Granderson's 2009 production would help improve an outfield whose offensive output was inept. In 2009, Fukudome, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano combined to hit .252/.352/.413.765 with 43 HRs and 149 RBIs.
And, hey, who doesn't love a homecoming story?
WHAT CAN THE CUBS OFFER?
"A blue-chip relief pitcher and middle infielder, perhaps, with maybe a replacement-level center fielder as part of a possible two-player acquisition for Detroit" is what the article references, so let's start there.
If the Cubs are looking to deal a "replacement-level center fielder" they can start with Tyler Colvin. One of the Cubs' top prospects, he was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2006 draft. GM Jim Hendry could also possibly dangle Sam Fuld and see if he is beloved in Detroit as he is with some of the bleacher bums at Wrigley. As for relievers, the Cubs could offer Jeff Samardzija if they can get him to waive his no-trade clause, or Jeff Stevens, who the Cubs acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Mark DeRosa deal. Other names could include Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg or Mitch Adkins.
As for a middle-infielder, shorstop Ryan Theriot could fit the bill, but prospect Starlin Castro might intrigue the Tigers moreso than The Riot.
The Tigers also might be looking for someone to fill the role of designated hitter. Enter another fan favorite, Jake Fox. Fox slugged 11 homers and posted a .779 OPS in 241 plate appearances in 2009. Projected over a full season, the small-sample size balloons to a 21 homer, 86 ribbie season over 650 plate appearances.
It's a shot in the dark, but that's what this segment is all about. You're not going to get Granderson in exchange for Milton Bradley and Mike Fontenot, but I'm not suggesting that. You've got to give some to get some.
And think about it, once upon a time, you were a shot in the dark, too.