After the acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner‘s name is now the newest on the list of possible trade pieces for the New York Yankees. Gardner has been rumored to be linked in possible trades for starting pitching. While the Yankees definitely need more starters, with C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova being the only two pitchers with secure rotation spots, it would be incredibly foolish to release Gardner after he’s spent his entire MLB career in pinstripes.
While people make the arguments that the Yankees have an abundance of outfielders and that Gardner and Ellsbury contribute similar skill sets, which are both valid points, there are several reasons that Gardner should actually be receiving an extension on his contract after he becomes arbitration-eligible after the 2014 season.
Gardner has proven to be a reliable player at the major league level. He has shown his value not only at the plate with a career on-base percentage of .352, a higher percentage than Ellsbury, but he has also remained New York’s most consistent defender over his six-year career. While speculation is swirling about the health and durability of Ellsbury, Gardner has played over 100 games in four of his six seasons in the majors.
Yes, the Yankees have depth in the outfield, but as last year proved for the Yankees, injuries can come at any time. Their depth includes Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells, ages 37, 40 and 34 respectively. All of their contracts expire after the season, and I find it hard to believe that the Yankees will re-sign any of them regardless of any heightened production that could be showcased in 2014.
The Yankees are constantly blasted for having one of the oldest average ages in terms of players in the league, and with the rapid decline in Wells’ production, the platoon trio of Soriano, Suzuki and Wells doesn’t seem to be one of dependability for years to come.
Let’s say Gardner is traded this offseason and following the 2014 season, all of the Yankees’ outfielders are not re-signed. Options include: hitting the free-agent market, in which the only outfielder under the age of 30 that will be available is Colby Rasmus, or perhaps reaching into the farm system.
The Yankees’ prospects include a long list of players who have yet to eclipse the .261 mark in Double-A Trenton. Relying on production from the minors is not something the Yankees have done in the past, and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. If they are able to hang on to Gardner, they will be securing not only a reliable and productive player, but also a veteran of dealing with the limelight of the big city.
Plus, imagine a lineup with Ellsbury and Gardner for the next seven years. That kind of speed to balance out a lineup is rarely seen and could form a new foundation that the Yankees haven’t been able to create in recent years of them heavily relying on the long ball. With both players being only 30-years-old, could you imagine the Bronx Bombers leading the league in steals?