INDIANAPOLIS — Instead of spending at these winter meetings, the New York Yankees are in a dealing mode.
The World Series champions pulled off the first big trade of this year's session, reaching a tentative agreement Tuesday on a three-team, seven-player swap that would bring them All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson from Detroit.
New York would trade right-hander Ian Kennedy to Arizona, and lefty reliever Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson to Detroit, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.
Detroit would ship All-Star pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks, and Arizona would send touted young pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The teams were still working on technical aspects of the trade, the official said, including checking medical records.
"Granderson, of course he's going to make them better," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He's a pretty good outfielder. He plays with a lot of energy. He's the kind of guy that fits into that landscape in New York, where he's going to thrive within that kind of a situation."
Among free agents, the Washington Nationals surprised many by reaching a preliminary agreement on a $6 million, two-year contract with 38-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a person familiar with those talks said. That person spoke on condition of anonymity because Pudge must pass a physical.
The 14-time All-Star figures to be a backup and mentor to 25-year-old Jesus Flores.
Seattle finalized its $36 million, four-year contract with Chone Figgins, who is likely to become the Mariners' third baseman and No. 2 hitter behind leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki. St. Louis completed a $7.5 million, one-year deal with pitcher Brad Penny, who joins a rotation that includes Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
While Milwaukee was negotiating with Randy Wolf, the pitcher's agent said he didn't have an agreement with anyone yet.
Also, the Chicago Cubs were shopping mercurial outfielder Milton Bradley.
Among players eligible for salary arbitration, the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $14 million, three-year contract with third baseman Mark Teahen, and the Atlanta Braves designated outfielder Ryan Church for assignment rather than offer him a contract by Saturday's deadline. Some teams are waiting to find out which players won't be tendered contracts before making free-agent moves.
"Some of the non-tender guys will blend in equal to some of the free-agent guys," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said.
The three-team trade was the big news of the day. The speedy Granderson would displace Melky Cabrera as center fielder on the Yankees. A left-handed batter who could benefit from Yankee Stadium's short porch, Granderson was a first-time All-Star last season, when he had 30 homers, 71 RBIs and 20 steals.
"There's a lot of noise out there. Clearly I can't speak to the noise," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Granderson's batting average has dropped from .302 in 2007 to .280 in 2008 to .249 last year. He also had 141 strikeouts — his fourth straight season over 100 — and hit .183 against lefties.
"He beats up righties with power," said Maddon, who managed Granderson in this year's All-Star game. "But they're going to have to work on the left-on-left issues, and I know that's something that they're probably going to address right out of the chute."
Cabrera, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, batted .274 last season with 13 homers, 68 RBIs and 10 steals. He could shift to left, depending on whether New York re-signs Johnny Damon or designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
Cashman spoke last weekend with Damon's agent, Scott Boras, and met Tuesday with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem. Cashman also met twice with Randy Hendricks, an agent for left-hander Andy Pettitte.
"You always want to get younger, especially when you have an older team," Cashman said before adding: "Just because somebody is younger doesn't mean they're actually better."
Detroit, which failed to make the playoffs following a late-season slide, may be looking to cut payroll after a big attendance drop this year at Comerica Park. Granderson is owed $25.75 million: $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 a $2 million buyout of a $13 million club option for 2013.
Edwin Jackson was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA this year and is eligible for salary arbitration after making $2.3 million, including $100,000 in performance bonuses. He can become a free agent after the 2011 season.
Kennedy, who turns 25 on Dec. 19, impressed when he came up from the minors at the end of the 2007 season, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts. But he struggled with injuries in each of the last two seasons.
He strained a muscle near his right ribcage and had bursitis in his right shoulder blade in 2008, when he was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance. He pitched in just one big league game this year, when he was sidelined by surgery May 12 to remove an aneurysm from beneath his right biceps.
"We just went through a very rough season, and so for us to turn down any way to make our team better would be irresponsible," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said.
Coke was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 72 relief appearances. While he pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings in the AL playoffs, he gave up two runs over 1 1-3 innings in the World Series.
Austin Jackson, 22, is considered one of the Yankees' top prospects. He hit .300 last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with 23 doubles, four homers, 65 RBIs and 24 steals.
Scherzer, the 11th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, is a 25-year-old righty who went 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts for Arizona last season, striking out 174 in 170 1-3 innings.
Schlereth, a 23-year-old lefty, was the 26th pick in the 2008 amateur draft. He made his major league debut this year and went 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 21 relief appearances with 22 strikeouts in 18 1-3 innings. He is the son of former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth.