Rumors suggest the Baltimore Orioles are prioritizing outfield help this offseason, and New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner could be just what they’re looking for.
While it is difficult to imagine the New York Yankees moving a homegrown star to a division rival, the Baltimore Orioles are said to be seeking an upgrade in their outfield this winter, and Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball suggests Brett Gardner could be a fit.
According to Heyman, the Orioles are specifically interested in a lefty hitting outfielder who is a strong defender. Gardner was recently honored with his first Gold Glove award for his fielding work in the 2016 campaign, but has long been one of the American League’s premier defensive corner outfielders.
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Aside from Adam Jones in centerfield, the Orioles outfield picture is pretty wide open at the moment. The team reportedly sees Hyun Soo Kim as more of a platoon option than an everyday player and Mark Trumbo could depart via free agency. The fact that they are looking to shore up their defense may suggest they are ready to move on from watching Trumbo lumber around the outfield.
New York reportedly shopped Gardner both last offseason and at the 2016 trade deadline. It’s very likely top prospect Clint Frazier will force his way into the big leagues at some point next season, so it makes sense to open a spot for him this winter, especially with the club looking to get younger and cut payroll. Fellow veteran trade chip Brian McCann seems to be a hot commodity in the early days of the offseason, but things have been much quieter on the Gardner front thus far.
The Yankees have been pursuing young pitching in return for Gardner, which is not a particular area of depth for Baltimore. Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley, and Yovani Gallardo are presumably available after awful seasons. While there could be some merit to buying low on Gallardo, I’d probably pass on that trio. Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright have the advantage of being younger and cheaper, but aren’t more than spare arms.
Dealing within the division does complicate matters however. The two clubs have made exactly three trades in the last two decades, and none of them were exactly blockbusters. The Yankees certainly shouldn’t rule anything out, but with so many free agent outfielders available, it seems unlikely that Baltimore will need to make a move this unusual.