Let me preface this by saying that there's nothing out there even hinting that this is a possibility. The Cubs aren't trying to acquire Brett Gardner and the Yankees aren't shopping him. Rosenthal's tweet last night reminded me of an email conversation we had on Monday night about this topic though, and I'd like to expand on it in a little hypothetical trade musing if you'd indulge me.
Say the Cubs were interested in Gardner. That's a pretty well stocked trade partner in terms of return pieces. And Gardner's 4-year/$52 million extensions kicks in this year, so the Cubs would be getting him for the next handful of years at a good price. That would be worth something pretty significant. For the sake of this hypothetical, let's say it's Addison Russell. The Cubs already have a starting shortstop, so they'd be dealing from a position of great wealth and depth to add a very good player to a position of great need. It could happen. If you're the Yankees, that's a trade you have to make, right?
From there the Yankees could sign Colby Rasmus as a 1-year replacement for Gardner in left field, adding a little more pop to the lineup and putting the new tandem hitting coaches to work on getting his average up and strikeouts down. Russell is expected to start this season in Triple-A, so the Yankees wouldn't necessarily have to get rid of Didi Gregorius immediately. What they could do is try to turn him or Russell around as part of a trade package for another starting pitcher. It wouldn't have to be someone like Cole Hamels who would cost an arm and a leg either if that's what you're worried about. Putting chips like Didi or Russell on the table would open up a lot more opportunities, and the Yanks could be selective about how much to give up and for whom.
This makes a lot of sense in my head for both sides. The Cubs get a strong veteran presence to lock down center field and the top of their batting order for the next few years while their young crop comes up and matures. The Yanks get an even better future shortstop prospect than the one they already have and the opportunity to explore the trade market for pitching more aggressively.
On the New York side, the combination of Russell-Rasmus-Starting Pitcher A would be more helpful to the team this year and in future years than the duo of Gardner and Gregorius, and that's factoring in whatever other prospects it would take to land the pitcher. It wouldn't even have to be Russell, it could be Starlin Castro or Javier Baez if that's who the Cubs were more willing to give up. The same logic would apply with them. The important thing is it would solve the Yankees' biggest problem in the present and keep their effort to get younger for the future going in the right direction as well.
As much as I love Gardner, he is a redundant piece on the roster with Ellsbury planted in center field. He's also on the wrong side of 30 now and who knows when that foot and bat speed will start to slow down on him. If the Cubs were interested in him and the Yankees could get one of their blue chippers back, I think that's a no-brainer.
h/t to former EIC and IIATMS legend Mike Eder for starting the email convo and presenting the Rasmus idea. He's still busy doing real world stuff, but I'm going to try to bug him into coming out of retirement for a post or two at some point this year.
And don't forget to follow me on Twitter, @BradVietro. I'm going to straight up Mick Foley this thing with cheap plugs to boost those follower numbers. No shame in my game.