Friday, January 3, 2014

Report: Gardner Still On Multiple Teams' Radars

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

The Yankees have been steadfast in their public commitment to not trade Brett Gardner since they signed Carlos Beltran last month.  Before the speculation could even get going they stated they had no intention of trading Gardner and they've stuck to that, most notably when they turned down the Cincinnati Reds' offer of a Garder-for-Brandon Phillips swap.

The lack of willingness on New York's part to actively shop Gardner hasn't stopped other teams from calling, however.  According to a report by Peter Gammons yesterday, "at least a half-dozen teams" have contacted the Yankees to "take a run" at Gardner.  Included in that list of teams are the Phillies and Tigers, 2 clubs who could match up with the Yankees as trade partners depending on what they're willing to give up to get Gardner.  Gammons wrote that Cash is looking for starting pitching in return for Gardner and both Philly and Detroit have that to offer.

I've talked about the idea of trading for Cliff Lee already this offseason, Jonathan Papelbon too, but they're not the only big name the Phillies are shopping.  Both Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown have had their names come up as potential trade pieces, which doesn't make much sense given that Philly has already committed a decent chunk of change to older, lesser players already this offseason but could be intriguing options for the Yankees, who need to get younger and better in their rotation.

Obviously Gardner wouldn't be traded straight up for any of these players, but as a big part of a package, he could certainly be used to get at least 1 of them.  The Yankees would be kicking the payroll goal to the curb by acquiring Lee or Hamels, but they're already well on their way to doing that with their pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka and adding one of those 2 top lefties along with Tanaka would suddenly make their rotation deeper and better than almost any in MLB.  Brown would be a huge downgrade defensively to Gardner and even after last year's breakout he's probably never going to live up to his highest prospect hype.  He would add more left-handed power to a lineup that thrives on left-handed power though, and would give the Yankees a low-cost player in his 20s under team control through 2017.

The options on the Tigers aren't quite as flashy, although the rumored Gardner-for-Austin Jackson swap from a few weeks ago is something I'd sign up for in a heartbeat.  The surplus of starting pitching in Detroit would have been a perfect match for the Yankees, but they're less likely to move someone like Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly now that they've traded Doug Fister away.  Awesome as it would be, they also aren't likely to entertain the idea of trading their top prospects, like a Nick Castellanos, for 1 year of Gardner.

The interest in Gardner on the trade market hasn't been quelled by the Yankees' lack of interest in trading him.  Be it the Reds, Phillies, Tigers, or whatever other teams make up that reported half-dozen, there are plenty of clubs out there looking to add his speed and elite defensive skills to their roster, even if it's just for 1 year.  While they may not be actively trying to move Gardner, the Yankees should at least be listening to offers and seeing what teams are willing to give up to get him.  It's no slam dunk that they re-sign Gardner after the 2014 season, and they just saw how much of a bummer it can be when you don't trade a productive player and then lose him in free agency.

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