Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn't shopping the speedy Brett Gardner this offseason, but that hasn't stopped teams from inquiring about his availability.
According to a recent notebook by Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com, at least six teams (including the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers) have approached Cashman about Gardner. But Gammons wrote that "Cashman won’t move him until and unless he has to for starting pitching," while adding that the GM thinks Gardner is similar to recently signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
I think it's an apt comparison between the two new teammates, who help make up a crowded outfield that also features Carlos Beltran, Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano under contract for next season.
While Gardner might not have the same prowess on the basepaths or in the field as Ellsbury, he certainly holds his own. In 145 games for the Yankees last season, Gardner batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 52 RBI, 24 stolen bases and 81 runs scored. Ellsbury, meanwhile, hit .298/.355/.426 with nine HRs, 53 RBI, 53 stolen bases and 92 runs scored.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors estimates that Gardner will receive $4 million in arbitration this season, which is a great deal for a player of his caliber. The Yankees were already rumored to have turned down a straight-up deal for Brandon Phillips in exchange for Gardner earlier this offseason, giving more perspective on the outfielder's value.
But it sounds like this situation won't shake out until the free-agent pitcher's market is settled following the bidding process for Masahiro Tanaka and signings of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
During the winter meetings, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also named Ichiro Suzuki as a more likely candidate to be traded than Gardner, so we'll be keeping our eye on the Bronx for some late action this offseason.