5 Reasons Why Brett Gardner Should Be Traded from the New York Yankees
Brett Gardner is a very good left fielder for the New York Yankees but the Yankees' No. 1 need this offseason is pitching, and if I were Brian Cashman I would be willing to trade a player like Gardner away for the right pitcher.
Gardner had a good 2011 season—he stole 49 bases, should have won a Gold Glove and hit .412 with a .915 OPS in the postseason against the Detroit Tigers—but Yankees could improve their roster by saying goodbye to him.
Let's see five reasons why this could, and should, happen.
Guess Brett Gardner's age. Twenty-four? Twenty-five? No. Gardner is 28 years old.
Most of Gardner's value came from his speed. Gardner stole 49 bases and was excellent in left field defensively in 2011 but his bat is suspect, he hit .259 with seven home runs in 2011.
As Carl Crawford showed, a player reliant on speed drops off very fast. Crawford stole 60 bases at 28 years old, 47 bases at 29 years old and 18 bases at 30 years old. His UZR/150, which is a measure of defensive prowess, has dropped from 18.7 to 20.8 to -2.8 in the same time period. Obviously, as Crawford reached 30 his speed dropped and his performance followed.
If Gardner follows a similar path he will not be in the Yankees lineup in two or three years. The Yankees should sell high on Gardner before he loses his best attribute: speed.
Brett Gardner currently hits ninth in the New York Yankees batting order due to his bat.
In 2011, Gardner had a .259/.345/.369 slash line to go with a .713 OPS, seven home runs and 36 runs batted in. He also hit .233 against lefties so he may only be a platoon player in the near future despite his speed and defense.
There are better bats out there on the free-agent market that play good defense in the outfield, such as Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer and Yoenis Cespedes, that the Yankees could sign.
With Brett Gardner out the door, somebody would have to step in an play left field for the Yankees. That person is Cuban-defector Yoenis Cespedes, who will be declared a free agent by MLB after the GM meetings in Dallas.
The New York Yankees are considered to be among the front-runners for Yoenis Cespedes, along with the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals. If the Marlins sign Albert Pujols, which I think they will after they offered him a 10-year deal, you can cross them off the list of contenders. That leaves the Tigers and Nationals left to challenge the Yankees for Cespedes.
Cespedes may not have Gardner's speed or defensive skills but he does have great speed and plus defense to go along with a great power and contact bat.
If Cashman wants Cespedes, it will cost the Yankees $50-60 million over five years but with his five-tool talent, it would be worth it.
Do you trust A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes in the rotation? I certainly do not.
The Yankees have bigger needs in their rotation than they do in left field and if the Yankees can grab Yoenis Cespedes, then Brett Gardner becomes expendable.
There are a few free-agent pitchers out there, headlined by C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, but none of them really fit in New York. On the trade market there are a few names out there like Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza and John Danks, but they are in high demand and therefore very expensive.
According to riveraveblues.com, the Washington Nationals called Brian Cashman about Brett Gardner's availability.
We all know that the Nationals have coveted Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton and are among the front-runners on Cespedes, but if they get too expensive then Gardner is not a bad plan B.
What would the Yankees get in return? I see two possible scenarios.
The first one is that the Yankees send Gardner to the Nationals for righty Brad Peacock, who posted a 2-0 record, 0.75 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 12 innings in the majors in 2011. Peacock was also strong in the minors by going 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA in Double-A and 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in Triple-A to go along with a 3.77 K/BB.
The second one is a more complicated three-team deal for either Matt Garza or Gio Gonzalez. The Yankees would send Brett Gardner to the Nationals and Dellin Betances and Slade Heathcott to the Cubs/A's. The Nationals would then send Brad Peacock to the Cubs/A's, who would then send Garza/Gonzalez to the Yankees.
In both trade scenarios, the Yankees would be adding a reliable starter to their rotation and would be replacing Brett Gardner with Yoenis Cespedes in left field.