D-backs made Max gamble at 2009 Meetings

Club won division in '11 behind Kennedy, Hudson, but gave up future Cy Young Award winner

December 8th, 2017

PHOENIX -- Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Josh Byrnes, who was then general manager of the D-backs, called then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to inquire about right-hander .
The two had trouble finding an exact trade matchup, so they brought in Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Finally, at the Winter Meetings the following month, the three men got together in one room and worked out a blockbuster trade.
The D-backs received right-hander from the Yankees and Jackson from the Tigers. The D-backs sent right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The Yankees sent lefty Phil Coke and outfielder to the Tigers, while Detroit sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.
• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: D-backs target depth in 'pen, outfield
It was an old-fashioned baseball trade, and looking at it from the D-backs' side of things, you can see how the perception of the trade shifted over the years.
The D-backs received some initial criticism for dealing Scherzer, who was their No. 1 pick in 2006 and had rocketed through their system. Still, the organization had some concerns about his ability to stay healthy, especially with his violent delivery, and be successful long term as a starter.
"For us to enter into any trade like that and give up Max Scherzer, who is a very talented young starter, we feel like we needed to bring in two starters back," Byrnes said at the time.
Initially, it looked bad for the D-backs.
The 2010 season was not a good one in Arizona. The team struggled and Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch were dismissed on July 1.
Jackson, in particular, had a rough year, and despite throwing a 149-pitch no-hitter in June, he had a 5.16 ERA when interim GM Jerry Dipoto traded him to the White Sox prior to the Trade Deadline.
By the end of 2011, though, the trade seemed to tilt a bit in the D-backs' favor.
After a good year in 2010, Kennedy was the team's ace in 2011, going 21-4 and compiling a 137 ERA+. One of the pitchers the D-backs got in return for Jackson, , went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts in 2010 and won 16 games in 2011.
With Kennedy and Hudson at the top of the rotation, the D-backs won the National League West Division.
"[Kennedy] had a history of success in college and in the Minors and even initially in the big leagues and we saw him coming off the aneurism," Byrnes said towards the end of the 2011 season. "He looked healthy and had added the cutter, so we thought he had four very solid pitches and good command. We thought he was a solid Major League pitcher. He's probably turned out better than we expected, but we certainly felt we were getting a good pitcher."
That season would be Kennedy's high-water mark in the big leagues, though he was still a very valuable pitcher over the next two seasons before being traded. In three-and-a-half years with the D-backs, Kennedy made 119 starts and compiled a 3.82 ERA.

Of course, Scherzer modified his delivery somewhat, and by 2013 he was an elite pitcher, winning the American League Cy Young Award. He followed that up with another outstanding year in '14 and then cashed in with a seven-year, $210 million free agent deal with the Nationals.
Would the D-backs have been better off with Scherzer instead of Kennedy and Hudson? Perhaps, but while Scherzer was clearly the best player in that trade and the Tigers may have come out winners in the long run, it isn't quite as cut and dried.