Since the moment Joel Sherman's report in the New York Post of the Tigers' impending payroll dump was released to the masses, the hottest of all topics in the early days of baseball's hot stove has been the eventual destination of Curtis Granderson. All the usual suspects have been involved in the trade speculation, including the Red Sox, Cubs, White Sox, Angels, and of course, the New York Yankees. And given their outfield situation going into 2010 the consideration of the 29-year-old, athletic lefthander isn't unwarranted.
The Yankees will enter next season with an outfield setup that remains uncertain on the heels of their championship. The general assumption is that Hideki Matsui (the World Series MVP) will be moving on to clear the DH spot for the veterans on the club like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and even A-Rod. Matsui is too injury prone to play the field anyway, so he no longer factors into the discussion.
Nick Swisher should once again see the of majority time in right field due to his productive 2009 but he can play any of the three outfield positions, giving the Yankees much needed flexibility that will be crucial during the personnel transition in the outfield over the next few seasons. Johnny Damon may return to play left depending on how demanding his megalomaniac agent Scott Boras will act in negotiations. In any case, there is no way the Yankees will give Damon the four-year deal Boras is currently after. If Johnny will accept a short term deal he may return in pinstripes but history indicates that he will likely have no problem moving on to his fifth team for the right price.
Xavier Nady (if re-signed) is a possibility to replace Damon in left field or right but his health has long made him a perpetual question mark of unreliability. Which leaves the two youngsters — Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera — in centerfield.
Both players put up solid seasons offensively and defensively in 2009. Melky Cabrera won the job from Gardner early — and kept it through Brett's injury — but in the end both players contributed nicely to the overall production of the team, and in much different ways. A platoon situation is definitely a possibility in center field with these two, but is likely not ideal given that a solid amount of at bats will be crucial to the to the development of both players. In a alternative scenario, the Yankees could feature an outfield of Cabrera, Gardner and Swisher but the Bombers are likely to want more offensive production, especially if the Red Sox make a play on Matt Holliday or re-sign Jason Bay.