Though Brian Sabean might seem as though he’s actively trying to skirt the issue these days, it’s no big secret that the San Francisco Giants need offensive help.
More specifically, they’re looking for a good bat to call the left field at AT&T Park home, at least for the next little while. Oh, and they don’t really want to spent
an exorbitant large notable any amount of money to acquire said bat. That cash route was already used on the mound: $5 million on Ryan Vogelsong, $23 million on Tim Hudson, and $35 million on Tim Lincecum; so while they want an upgrade, they also want to do it frugally.
Which is to say that most likely, it’s unlikely that the Giants are going to get much of an upgrade at all.
However, not all is entirely lost in their quest, as it so happens that the New York Yankees, fresh off taking the opposite approach and spending a handsome bundle of money on several bats, could be looking to deal one of its existing outfielders. There were some rumblings that the Giants could be interested in Ichiro Suzuki, but considering that the aging legend is not necessarily a productive one anymore, it never made for much of an ideal fit to begin with.
Brett Gardner, on the other hand, is a different story.
Going into his final arbitration-eligible year in 2014 after making $2.85 million in 2013, the speedster would be getting a raise, but would likely still be a bargain in terms of cost for production, especially compared to the deal that Shin-Soo Choo or even Nelson Cruz would get. While not exactly the power-hitting bopper that the Giants are looking for, there’s little doubt that Gardner would be an upgrade for San Francisco.
Provided that his health is not an issue, the 30-year old is a decent hitter with game-changing speed and plus defense, having posted seasons of 6.0 fWAR and 4.9 fWAR back-to-back before a throwaway 2012 season due to elbow issues. He’d be able to slot in either at left field or center, giving San Francisco the option of moving defensively-minded singles hitter Gregor Blanco to a fourth OF/platoon role if necessary. It’s not the ideal acquisition, but even at 3.0-plus fWAR, it’ll do.
There’s just one more wrinkle in this scenario, of course: the Giants actually have to convince the Yankees to give him up.
New York is probably pretty open to making a trade as Gardner is the guy that will get them the most value, but they’re by no means desperate to dump him either. This is kind of where the fit between the parties end, as what New York would be looking for is either a second baseman (who is better than Kelly Johnson) or starting pitching … that can be of immediate help as a known quantity.
Well, the Giants don’t really have the former, and just got done taking care of the latter on their end, which is to say that they don’t have a surplus pitcher to deal … at least none that would really suit what the Yankees.
The long candidate here would be right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who put together a surprising seven-start run that saw him put up a 3.59/1.20 ERA/WHIP. Those kinds of numbers, if sustained, would probably be able to entice New York to make a move, but the fact is that it’s the first real string of notable success he’s had as a starter in the bigs, and at 29-years old, the lack of a track record is likely going to be more of a factor for a trade partner than what upside might be left.
There might be a fitting trade partner for him yet, but even if Petit turns out to be a late bloomer who will be an effective starter from this point on, the Yankees probably aren’t going to part with Gardner just to find out.