Yankees Trade Scenarios: 10 Outfield Targets If Brett Gardner Doesn't Return
With Brett Gardner out another three to four weeks, some people are wondering if he'll ever make it back at all. After playing just nine games, Gardner went on the DL and has experienced setbacks prolonging his stint on the DL.
The New York Yankees miss Gardner's speed, athleticism, defense, and base running skills. He can get on base and create runs all thanks to his speed and know how around the bases. In the outfield, he can chase down fly balls that could've ended up turning into a double without his speed.
Since Gardner went down, the Yankees have been primarily using Raul Ibanez as the left fielder. With his age and poor numbers against lefties, however, Ibanez isn't suited to play the field everyday. Andruw Jones and even DeWayne Wise have filled in, but like Ibanez, they are far from ideal everyday starters.
The trade deadline is approaching and some are wondering if GM Brian Cashman will be looking to add an outfielder in the event Gardner stays on the DL even longer. Cashman will have some restrictions as I'm sure he doesn't plan on trading away another highly-touted prospect and then there's the Yankees' payroll plans for 2014.
Ideally, Cashman would be looking for a relatively inexpensive player who can get on base and even steal some bases. I'll bet Cashman will want someone who can hit with runners in scoring position. With that in mind, here are 10 players the Yankees can target.
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Dexter Fowler's a lot like Brett Gardner in terms of getting on base and his base running skills. Fowler's batting .279 with an on-base percentage of .376. Those are some pretty solid numbers to have.
He also has six doubles and six stolen bases. So like Gardner, Fowler has the speed the New York Yankees are missing. Fowler will score runs and is also starting to show some power. He has eight homers so far this season, more than he had in any previous season.
But of course, he's not exactly perfect either.
Fowler is a little error prone for an outfielder. He has three errors so far this season. Last season, Fowler had eight errors. If the Yankees go after him, they'll have to hope his offensive skills will make up for his relatively poor fielding abilities.
There's also no mention on whether or not the Colorado Rockies would be willing to trade him. He's only 26 years old and is cheap. He's only making $2.35 million this season and the Rockies would be able to easily control him salary wise as he becomes a free agent in 2016.
So while Fowler would be a good fit for the Yankees and a fill-in for Gardner, I'm not sure if the Rockies would part with him for cheap.
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Shin-Soo Choo is a bit of an underrated commodity as he had back-to-back seasons with an average of .300, 20 homers, and 20 steals in 2009 and 2010. Choo's had some trouble with injuries last season which limited his playing time and production. This season, however, Choo looks to be inching his way closer to his career numbers in 2009 and 2010.
He is currently batting .263/.356/.404 with five homers, 20 RBI, and nine steals. Those aren't exactly the best numbers, but they're not the worst either. Choo will likely end the season with roughly 20 homers and at least 80 RBI.
Speed is a strength for Choo with his nine steals and 17 doubles. The New York Yankees are looking for speed to give their lineup some energy. Choo is also relatively cheap, like Dexter Fowler, as he won't hit free agency until 2014, when the Yankees are looking to slash their payroll.
Choo has trouble hitting lefties however. He's batting .176 against them versus .305 against righties. The Yankees already have Raul Ibanez who has similar problems against lefties. Unlike Ibanez, however, Choo can play the field everyday. He's also a pretty decent fielder.
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Shin-Soo Choo's teammate, Michael Brantley, is best known for his recent 22 game hitting streak. Brantley isn't a power hitter, nor is he an on-base machine. He is, however, an above-average fielder who doesn't strike out a lot with some speed.
Brantley currently has nine stolen bases. He stole 13 last season which are the most he's ever stolen. His low stolen base totals is because he's not an aggressive runner along the lines of Brett Gardner. He is however, a smart baserunner which is better than an aggressive baserunner.
Unlike Choo and Raul Ibanez, Brantley doesn't have a huge drop off in his numbers when he bats left-handed pitchers. Brantley bats lefty but still hits .278 against lefties. That's not too far from his overall average of .280 or his average against righties which is .281.
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Juan Pierre has the speed and the on-base percentage to replace Brett Gardner's role in the lineup. It also helps that Pierre's average is .325 in 58 games with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pierre has 14 stolen bases and was only caught twice. He's known for being a prolific base-stealer. Back in 2007, Pierre stole 64 bases for the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he won't do that again, it's still likely that he can steal 30-40 bases.
He's a decent enough fielder to be able to play the outfield every day. However, the New York Yankees should worry about his splits against lefties. A .161 batting average versus left-handed pitchers is a cause for concern.
Should the Yankees acquire him, then they should put him in a platoon with Andruw Jones in left field. Raul Ibanez can return to being the primary DH to give him some much needed rest. Ibanez can occasionally play the outfield as well, Pierre needs his rest too.
Obtaining him wouldn't hinder the Yankees' plans to cut payroll by 2014. Pierre's only making $800,000 this season and will likely not cost much to obtain him.
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The Kansas City Royals are looking to get some value back for some of their players, including Jeff Francoeur. Now Francoeur isn't the New York Yankees' ideal replacement for Brett Gardner. His bat and defensive abilities do make him someone the Yankees should at least consider.
He's a right-handed bat that can handle both righties and lefties. Francoeur has some power, enough to hit 20 homers this season. His defense in the field would be greatly appreciated and would allow for the 40 year-old Raul Ibanez to get some rest.
Francoeur however, is a bit expensive. He's making $6.75 million this year and will make $7.5 million next year. After that, he's a free agent so he won't factor into the Yankees' plans for their lower payroll for 2014.
He could even fill in for Nick Swisher next year should Swisher decide to leave. My concern is that he's being paid a starter's salary when he isn't exactly producing like a starter. Francoeur isn't terrible and the Yankees should definitely look into him. I just think there are some better options for that amount of money.
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Seth Smith is similar to Jeff Francoeur in terms of what he brings to the team. Smith has a bit of power but has yet to hit 20 homers. He doesn't have the speed the New York Yankees are looking for, but he does have the on-base percentage.
Smith is an on-base machine for the Oakland Athletics with his .383 OBP. His seven homers shows he's start to develop some power and could be helped by Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field.
While he is a better hitter against righties than lefties, the difference between to two averages is large like they are with Juan Pierre or Raul Ibanez. He's also a solid defender who can play the outfield everyday.
He's eligible for arbitration after this season and won't hit free agency until 2015. Should the Yankees trade for him, he'll be easy to control for a couple of years. Smith is only making $2.42 million this season which is nothing compared to Alex Rodriguez's contract.
The downside with Smith is his terrible RISP numbers. Everyone knows the Yankees need someone who can help them with their RISP nightmares, not hurt them even more.
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Now this wouldn't be a New York Yankees trade scenario article without one big name player in it. Ichiro is in the middle of a disappointing season. He's batting .255/.286/.369. Despite that, he's still an excellent fielder and has the speed the Yankees are looking for.
He's stolen nine bases so far and should be able to reach at least 30 stolen bases depending on if he'll be able to improve his on-base percentage. Ichiro can still play the field and has that legendary arm of his which'll be a welcome addition to the Yankees team.
Now the Yankees should be getting younger, not older, but if they can get Ichiro for the right price, they should at least have some serious talks if they want to add him to the team. He's one of the few outfielders that fit the mold the Yankees are looking for that won't hurt their payroll plans for 2014.
Ichiro is a free agent after this year. He'll likely won't get another contract like the one he got in 2007 which is paying him $17 million this season. If he doesn't improve, the Yankees can let him go. But there's always the chance that new scenery can help a player out especially when he's played his entire career with one team.
The Yankees shouldn't place Ichiro at the top of their list. In fact, Ichiro should only be a considered if all else fails and the Seattle Mariners have a reasonable asking price if they are looking to move him. With that said, don't expect the Yankees to trade for him, but it would be an interesting idea though.
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Denard Span fits what the New York Yankees are looking for in a replacement for Brett Gardner. Span has speed, is a decent fielder, and can get on-base. He'd be the energy guy the Yankees are missing with Gardner's absence.
Unlike some of the other left-handed batters on this list, Span doesn't suffer from a severe batting average drop when facing left-handed pitchers. He's batting .265 versus lefties and .286 versus righties so doesn't need to be in a platoon.
Span's greatest asset is his speed. In addition to his seven stolen bases, Span has 17 doubles and a triple. Two years ago, Span hit 10 triples. You can be sure that the Yankees would love to have that on their team.
The biggest question with Span is, how much do the Minnesota Twins want for him? That is, if they are looking to trade him of course. Span is an excellent player and might demand a hefty price from the Twins. The Yankees should look into Span to see the asking price. If it's reasonable, then they should definitely go for him.
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Carlos Quentin is going to be the big name that's floated around this summer thanks to his amazing start with the San Diego Padres. He isn't the type of player the New York Yankees are currently looking for, but you can't ignore his abilties.
Quentin is an on-base machine and a power hitter. He's hit at least 20 homers the past four seasons, even hitting 36 back in 2008. He would fit the Yankees' preferred work the count style. With his power and on-base skills, Quentin could provide protection for the other big names in the Yankees lineup.
Of course, Quentin isn't exactly a perennial Gold Glover. His offense would have to cover his weaknesses on defense. Quentin isn't fast and athletic like Gardner, but he has the bat to make up for it.
The greatest asset Quentin can bring to the Yankees are his RISP numbers. During the past three seasons, Quentin batted .272/.361/.518 with 18 HR, 145 RBI, 57 strikeouts in 313 AB with runners in scoring position.
Even though Quentin doesn't fit what the Yankees are searching for, his success with runners in scoring position should make the Yankees watch him closely. He could end up being the key to helping the Yankees wake up from their RISP nightmares.
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Michael Bourn is the closest the New York Yankees will get to finding a perfect replacement for Brett Gardner. The Atlanta Braves brought him in last season to help them make the playoffs but they fell a little short. He's the ideal leadoff batter and would be just what the Yankees are looking for.
Should the Braves start to slip in the highly contested NL East, expect them to make some of their players available, including Bourn. He's got the speed, defense, and on-base percentage the Yankees want.
Bourn's batting .314/.365/.451 with 17 stolen bases, three triples, and 44 runs. Expect the Braves to have a pretty high asking price if they decide to trade him. With that said, I don't expect the Yankees having to give up one of their highly-touted prospects in order to get him.
He could even help the Yankees with their RISP woes with his .292 batting average in those types of situations. While that wouldn't be why they would want to bring him in, it would be a nice bonus. His ability to score runs and get on-base will give the Yankees the energy boost they missed when Gardner went on the DL.