Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski didn't have to mention either one by name when he talked about his discussions Monday to reflect how much interest was building in Jackson and Granderson as the Winter Meetings began.
"We are much more open-minded to talk about things than we had been in the past," Dombrowski said Monday evening before talk of a potential three-way deal with the Yankees and D-backs that would include both Granderson and Jackson surfaced via a report on FOXSports.com.
But the Tigers are talking about enough things that they set the tone for baseball's rumor mill as the meetings roll on. A report from USA Today early Monday afternoon suggested a deal involving Jackson was close. Another rumor later in the day from another publication suggested a deal was done with the Mets, a rumor that was quickly denied.
While the D-backs had discussions with the Tigers on Jackson, a FOXSports.com report included the Mariners and Angels among teams interested in Jackson, with the Halos also interested in Granderson.
"We're talking about a lot of different things right now," Dombrowski said Monday evening. "We anticipated having a lot of conversations, and we have done that, even in the short time period."
By Monday evening, as Dombrowski spoke, it became clear that the Tigers were weighing a lot of interest during an opening day that he characterized as "more intensified" than most, both in number of conversations and in depth.
As far as any deal being imminent, however, Dombrowski indicated team officials were weighing their options while also making their own demands on what they expect.
"I don't know if we're close to a trade or not," Dombrowski said. "I don't really know that. Somebody might call us up and say, 'You've got a deal.' And I'm not just talking about [Jackson] specifically; I'm talking about any player or a few players we're talking about.
"But we have had a lot of conversations. I would also not be shocked if I sat here [later in the week] and told you that nothing did happen."
At this point, the latter would be quite a surprise to everyone gathered here.
The Tigers came into the Winter Meetings saying they will not make a deal simply to clear payroll, and they continue to suggest that. They continue to look for young talent that can help them now and in the future, and Dombrowski insists that they will not give up on 2010 as they look toward the future.
However, while the Tigers don't discuss it, there's also a realization that the economy in Michigan is forcing the team to adjust, even as Detroit awaits expiring contracts that could take more than $50 million off the payroll for 2011. Even if the Tigers trade Jackson and Granderson, their '10 payroll will sit well above $100 million.
Fire sale or not -- and Dombrowski, who knows about having to sell off players from his days as the GM in Montreal and Florida -- it certainly isn't business as usual.
"We've been more open-minded to talk about different things than in the past," Dombrowski reiterated. "A lot of times, you don't even entertain those questions. A couple years ago, we tried to get one specific piece, which was a shortstop, which didn't work out very well for us. We weren't looking to move anybody. We just tried to add Edgar Renteria. It didn't work for us.
"Last year was a different approach for us. We kind of filled in guys with one-year [contracts] here, one-year [contracts] there, and we had a better club."
Now, it's clearly a different direction again. And with all 30 front offices represented in the same town, Detroit's two most appealing trade pieces are building interest.
Jackson remains the most likely Tigers player to be traded. Just 26 years old, he's coming off a breakout season that earned him an All-Star spot and kept the team in some low-scoring battles. However, his second consecutive second-half fade raised concerns within the organization about his long-term success. He's also on track for free agency in two years, and with Scott Boras as his agent, he won't be easy to re-sign if those two years are good ones.
Indications over the weekend suggested Detroit could be cooling on trading Granderson, possibly out of public reaction. That doesn't mean, however, the team has stopped listening to interest, which has seemingly built in the days since free-agent speedster Chone Figgins reached a reported deal with Seattle. While several teams have reason for interest in Granderson, that doesn't mean they're willing to meet the asking price.
The Angels are a logical destination, given their newfound need for a leadoff hitter. However, they're expected to use prospect Brandon Wood in Figgins' place at third base, removing a potentially enticing piece from consideration. Their strength lies in two young catchers in Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli, along with prospect Hank Conger.
Any interest from the Cubs seemingly would hinge on their ability to trade Milton Bradley and open a spot in the outfield for incumbent center fielder Kosuke Fukudome to move to right. However, Chicago would appear unlikely to give up a prospect-laden package that would include shortstop Starlin Castro.
The Tigers, however, still say they won't sell off without a good return. The bidding on that front appears to have begun.
"The deals that we have kicked around so far, we feel good [about] making from a baseball sense," Dombrowski said. "And I don't know if they'll happen or not."