Earlier tonight, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees turned down a Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips swap. At first blush, this seems like a great non-move. Phillips is owed $50 MM over the next four years, and his production dipped in back-to-back seasons, dropping from well above-average (122 wRC+), to average (101 wRC+), to below-average (91 wRC+). It is possible, of course, that last season was a one-year blip, perhaps clouded by his pressing for RBI with so many tasty opportunities as he batted behind Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto. However, it is also possible that the 32-year-old Phillips has entered his decline phase. I would be hesitant to take that chance, particularly when $50 MM may not be enough for Phillips to back his bags for New York.
If the Yankees were to pounce on Phillips, his luxury tax hit would be $12.5 MM for this coming season. Based on the numbers being floated around, the Yankees may be able to retain Gardner and sign Omar Infante at that price. Or retain Gardner, and add Juan Uribe. Or retain Gardner, and add Marks Reynolds and Ellis. I am quite confident that any of those groups would give the Yankees more value than Phillips.
Unconvinced? Consider the following numbers from 2012 and 2013, presented without further comment:
Mark Ellis – .264/.328/.357, 95 wRC+, 13.0 UZR/150, 4.3 fWAR, 5.5 bWAR
B. Phillips – .271/.315/.412, 96 wRC+, 8.6 UZR/150, 6.3 fWAR, 5.4 bWAR