The New York Yankees reportedly see no reason to deal left fielder Brett Gardner for anything less than a strong package of young talent this winter.
According the Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the New York Yankees “aren’t budging on their asking price for Brett Gardner.” The team has been shopping their veteran left fielder for the second consecutive offseason, but like last winter, it seems opposing clubs do not value Gardner as highly as the Yankees seem to.
The case for trading away Gardner before 2017 is twofold. First, with New York committed to getting under the $195 million luxury tax by next year, the $26 million owed to Gardy over the next two years is one of their larger contracts that can be reasonably moved to assist with that. Chase Headley‘s deal is another, which is why the front office has been listening on the team’s third baseman as well.
The other reason the general manager Brian Cashman is willing to move Gardner is because of the club’s rebuilding effort. Although Brian McCann was still one of the American League’s better starting catchers, the organization had no problem moving him once the farm system presented a viable alternative in Gary Sanchez.
The Yankees have no shortage of MLB-ready outfielders in the upper minors who could take over in left if Gardner is dealt. Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams, and Rob Refsnyder all saw action in the Bronx last year, and top prospect Clint Frazier is expected to be ready for full-time action at some point in 2017.
At the same time, it would be silly for New York to just give Gardner away. He was the team’s most valuable position player with 3.4 WAR according to Baseball-Reference’s metric and he’s being paid a fair market value. The man won a Gold Glove this year and got on base at a .351 clip. That’s a very useful player.
If no team wants to give the Yankees what Gardner is worth in order to acquire him, that may not be ideal for a rebuilding club, but it may then make sense to hang onto him and use him to help make a playoff push in 2017. It’s not like Frazier was pounding down the door in the second half in Triple-A.