The free agent market has grown thin, and the Yankees outfield has grown overcrowded. Could be time to enter the trade market, with Brett Gardner emerging as the Yankees most valuable trade chip.
“I’m not looking to move him,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “But when asked, have people called, absolutely they’ve called.”
According to one rival executive, the Yankees have also mentioned Ichiro Suzuki’s name in trade talks. There’s no indication that any sort of Ichiro trade is close, and his trade value is minimal at best. One baseball source questioned how well Ichiro would adjust to a fourth outfielder role, which is the way most teams are likely to value him.
Far more valuable is Gardner, the 30-year-old entering his final year of arbitration. Even with a raise, Gardner is likely to remain relatively affordable this season, and he’s coming off a strong season in which he hit .273/.344/.416 with a league-high 10 triples and a career-high eight home runs. With an underwhelming farm system, Gardner could be as valuable as anyone the Yankees could afford to lose.
“Gardner might bring them back some pitching,” a baseball talent evaluator said. “But not the (top-of-the-rotation) type you’re talking about.”
Although the Yankees have been aggressive in signing position players, they still have concerns throughout their infield. Even with Hiroki Kuroda re-signed, the Yankees still have a real need for another starting pitcher.
“It was never a good (pitching) market going into it,” Cashman said.
That could force the Yankees into the trade market, with Gardner as their most valuable chip.
Associated Press photo