Could Brett Gardner Be Wearing The Orange And Black Next Season?
With the recent acquisitions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to the New York Yankees outfield, and with in-house players Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki not going anywhere, the Yankees are reportedly exploring trade possibilities involving current left fielder, Brett Gardner, in an effort to improve other areas of their team – mainly starting pitching. The 30-year old Gardner has a career .268/.352/.381 triple-slash line in six seasons – all with the Yankees. He contract is very manageable, making $2.85 million last season, and has only one more year left of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2014 season.
While the rumors have been mild regarding which teams have reached out to the Yankees inquiring about Gardner’s services, the one team that many are seeing as a perfect fit for Gardner’s services is the San Francisco Giants. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Giants are intrigued at the possibility of adding Gardner, but that a trade is “not likely, but not impossible.”
The Giants are in desperate need of a left fielder, and general manager Brian Sabean has already come out and said that the best way for the Giants to get a left fielder is by trade, not through free agency. The Giants have already said that they will not sign any free agent who has a qualifying offer attached to them, costing the Giants their first-round pick in the MLB Draft, so that right there takes them out of the Shin-Soo Choo running.
In trading for Gardner, the Giants will most likely have to tap into some of their starting pitching depth they’ve accumulated throughout the minors. This, however, could be the problem that keeps Gardner from becoming a Giant. The reported asking price that the Yankees have placed on Gardner is immediate, major league ready starting pitching, no less than a #4 starting pitcher with the hopes of landing a #3. However, if the Yankees are willing to lower their asking price for Gardner, the Giants could make something work and offer up a pitcher or two from their farm system.
How Gardner would fit for the Giants is twofold. Gardner could slide in and take over as the full-time center fielder, where he is a plus-defender, and the Giants can then move current center fielder, Angel Pagan, to left field, which may be a better position for Pagan now as he is coming back from a major hamstring tear and his range could be limited in center field. Gardner could also move into the leadoff position in the batting order, where throughout his career he has enjoyed a decent on-base percentage and has plus-speed on the base paths. Pagan can then bat second, still utilizing his good speed from the two-hole, and give the Giants a viable 1-2 punch at the top of their batting order.
While Gardner may not be the ideal left fielder that the Giants are looking for (the Giants are seeking a power-hitting left fielders, something Gardner is not as he only has 23 career HR’s), he is a plus-defender with plus-speed and can get on-base. It’s no secret that the home of the Giants, AT&T Park, is where the home run ball goes to die, so the Giants instead have to manufacture runs with situational hitting and taking advantage of the wide gaps in the out field. I think Gardner’s skill-set would be a perfect fit for the Giants.
All of this is of course is speculation and the chances of Gardner actually coming to San Francisco are unlikely, but it is not out of the question that Gardner could be dawning the orange and black come next season. We’ll have to wait and see what comes about from the Winter Meetings.