The Yankees aren’t necessarily shopping Brett Gardner to other teams, but they’re certainly listening on offers. Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reports that the front office saw an increased interest in Gardner once they agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury earlier this week. Now that the team has agreed to a deal with Carlos Beltran, the Yankees have excess outfielders and the interest has further increased.
The team is currently seeking help at second base to replace Robinson Cano, a back up plan to Alex Rodriguez at third base, and is also looking at their options in the rotation and bullpen. There are still a number of relievers and starters available on the free agent market, so it would seem Gardner would be best used as a trade chip for a second baseman or third baseman.
There’s been some speculation that the team could trade Gardner in a package to the Reds for starting pitcher Homer Bailey, but that may not make sense with Masahiro Tanaka potentially available very soon, and Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are still on the open market. There’s also been some rumors about the team trading Gardner for a closer, but the free agent market still has Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, and Andrew Bailey available.
I think the team would be best suited to deal Gardner for a second baseman or third baseman. Initially, I thought a Gardner for Aaron Hill trade might make sense, but the Diamondbacks are well-set with center fielders. Still, GM Kevin Towers is known to love those gritty type players, and with Chris Owings set to take over at second base, the Diamondbacks could cut about $9 million from their payroll and find themselves with an incredible outfield of Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock, and Brett Gardner.
Another idea thrown around is Chase Headley. The Padres could certainly use a center fielder at the moment, and Chase Headley‘s power does not play well into Petco Park. A swap would make sense for both teams, but the bidding for Headley could get intense if other teams are interested. Headley has been killed by Petco Park in his career, and owns a .707 OPS inside the park, while sporting an .818 OPS on the road. Moving from the large ballparks of the NL West to Yankee Stadium is something to dream about, and if he stays healthy, Headley offers high versatility as a switch hitter, something Cashman wants badly this offseason.
If the Yankees do trade Gardner, I believe the team would be back in the Shin-Soo Choo race. The ageing Soriano and Beltran should not be counted on as everyday starting outfielders, and believe it or not, the Yankees can still easily afford Choo, a starting pitcher, and a reliever before mirroring the $228 million they spent in 2013.