May 8, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Gardner might have been safe this offseason but with his recent surge for the New York Yankees, he makes for the perfect trade chip.

Brett Gardner has always been safe. Safe when stealing bases for the New York Yankees. Safe when hustling out an infield single. Safe when stretching an easy double into an impressive triple.

Well this time, he might not be safe. And that has a lot to do with his recent stellar performance for the Bombers. By performing so well, he might just be playing himself out of the Bronx.

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Gardner has donned pinstripes since his introduction to the league during the 2008 season. Ever since Gardner collected his first hit on July 2 of that year, fans were excited to see what else this speedy outfielder could do.

While fans have wavered back and forth over the years on loving and hating Gardner, the recent talks have suggested Gardner be shipped out.

The Yankees can’t get rid of Jacoby Ellsbury easily, with his massive contract. They have fans fawning over new addition Aaron Judge. Aaron Hicks is a low risk-high reward option. And the minor leagues are filled to the brim with impressive young prospects waiting for their shot.

Gardner, despite his irreplaceable leadership qualities, seems to be the easiest to unload. However, following his first-half All-Star surge in 2015, he has since fallen off in a bad way.

1a1a1a1shortcodeNEWyanks-640x192 New York Yankees: Despite Recent Surge, Brett Gardner Still Isn't Safe

Who would trade valuable prospects or starting pitching for an outfielder who batted .302 in the first half of 2015 and .206 the rest of the season?

Or would anyone trade big pieces for a smart base runner who decided to simply stop utilizing his speed on the base paths?

The answer: Nobody. The return for Gardner wouldn’t be enough for what they would be losing. Even if his stats weren’t in the top 10, he still provides a veteran presence and emanates impressive leadership qualities.

But now, Brett Gardner is hitting. He’s fielding. He is doing everything that he needs to do to increase his value. However, he’s doing it to win his own spot. Sadly, by playing better he might just be unintentionally asking the Yankees to use him as a trade chip.

They have prospects waiting eagerly in the wings for a shot: prospects that they are unwilling to part with because of the potential they’ve shown already.

So far in May, Gardner’s line is incredible. He’s batting at a .379/.439/.741 clip, including some clutch home runs and monster hits. Gardner is doing everything the Yankees could ask for in left field.

However, it might not be enough. With Gardner’s trade value on the rise, teams would be far more willing to dole out a hefty return for a red-hot outfielder with a Gold Glove under his belt.

He is literally playing for his life, with Hicks surging up right behind him and prospects in Clint Frazier on the upswing in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But in reality, he might just be playing himself off the Yankees by performing so well.

It’s difficult to consider but it might just be true. The better he hits and fields, the more the Yankees like him. But if they have an overabundance of performing outfielders, they’ll be able to get a nice haul — perhaps even a starting pitcher — for the future by trading Gardner.

The focus is primarily on the future. The Yankees would definitely pounce at a chance to get an up-and-coming star or a young starting pitcher. That chance might come at the expense of losing a surging Brett Gardner.

The longest-tenured Yankee right now, Gardner has been a constant for Yankees fans. While some are urging the Yankees to trade him, they probably don’t realize what they’ll be missing by letting him go.

But that’s baseball, right? Trades can make us giddy over the returns but upset at the losses. That’s the name of the game, ladies and gentleman.

For now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy this recent offensive outburst by Brett Gardner. Even if a good performance means he’s gone, I’d still like to see Gardner tear up the baseball in pinstripes for a little while longer.

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Allison is just a girl with an enormous passion for the game of baseball and the written word. Based in Upstate New York, her life-long relationship with the New York Yankees is something that she developed through close relationships with her mother and grandfather. An aspiring sports writer, she graduated with a journalism degree and is finding places to share her excitement about the sporting world and how it affects us all.