The New York Yankees may have a potential trading partner for left fielder Brett Gardner and it’s one we’re all familiar with.
Why? Because since 2008, the speedster has the fifth-highest on-base percentage among AL outfielders, has just won a gold glove award, and regularly gives his all as soon as he steps between the lines.
Unfortunately, the 32-year old is not the future. Clint Frazier, the organization’s No. 1 prospect, is knocking on the door and it should be in general manager Brian Cashman’s best interest to bring over a starting pitcher for Gardner.
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Last week, ESNY noted three teams — the Mariners, Nationals, and Rangers — that are ideal fits for the slick fielding left fielder, and now, the Baltimore Orioles sit as a possible destination.
According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the O’s are looking for a “lefthanded hitter and to upgrade OF defense.” Hey, Gardner is both of those!
Their quest to improve defense also suggests that they’d rather not have Kim (-13 Rds) or Trumbo (-9 Rds) struggle out there. Gardner (12 Rds) would be an improvement in that respect while also giving their lineup a different look.
According to FanGraphs, Orioles’ left fielders maintained a .338 on-base percentage which led to a mere win probability added of -0.57. Gardner had a team-leading .351 OBP and in 2016, owned a 1.24 WPA, his highest since 2013.
As for what Baltimore could offer in return, things get tricky. Obviously, it’s ideal for Cashman to endeavor a young but ready starting pitcher but that’s not an area in the Orioles’ organization that is thriving.
After struggling mightily throughout the 2016 season, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley, and Yovani Gallardo are reasonably expected to be available. Unfortunately, their lack of dependability (142 average innings pitched between them) and age doesn’t justify a fit in the Bronx, especially for a home-grown star in Gardner.
The Yankees’ rotation currently contains depth, not stability and an offseason trade would be geared to bringing stability to what appears to be a tenuous rotation beyond Masahiro Tanaka.
Unless the team which declined to work their best pitcher in the Wild Card game offers the Yankees one of their top-notch starters, they will likely turn to free agency to add the lefty hitting/slick fielding left fielder they desire.
This doesn’t mean a deal involving two divisional rivals couldn’t happen. After all, in the offseason, general managers sometimes make shocking and sudden moves at any moment (perhaps a three-team trade?).
Gardner certainly fits their want and is the most likely Yankee to be traded this offseason, let’s see how it plays out.