The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers have had trade discussions regarding a possible deal of Brett Gardner for Austin Jackson according to Peter Gammons. This would certainly be an interesting deal for both teams since Jackson was traded by the Yankees to the Tigers as part of the three-team trade that saw Curtis Granderson come to the Bronx.
Whether there is real truth to this rumor remains to be seen. However, ever since the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran there have been rumors surrounding the Yankees and the possibility of Gardner being dealt despite the Yankees saying he won’t be. Of course, no player is truly untouchable and if a good deal comes along the Yankees will jump on it. Being offered Jackson would be one of those deals that the Yankees can’t say no to.
Gardner is 30-years-old and will turn 31 in August. Jackson will turn 27 in February. Jackson and Gardner are very similar players. Both are fast but Jackson is more of a bottom of the order-type hitter and not the leadoff hitter he has been posing as in recent years. He does have more pop than Gardner with 42 home runs in four seasons.
Jackson has cut down on his strikeouts in recent seasons going from a career-high 181 in 2011 to 129 last season which is a positive but he will still strikeout in bunches. Interestingly, he is a Curtis Granderson-type player with loads of triples, he has led the league twice in that department, some power, lots of strikeouts and a solid slash line. Jackson might be the better all-around player than Granderson but lacks Granderson’s power.
Last season, Jackson appeared in 129 games and hit .272/.337/.417 with 12 home runs, seven triples, 30 doubles and 99 runs scored. Gardner hit .273/.344/.416 with a league-leading 10 triples, career-high eight home runs, 33 doubles and 81 runs scored in 145 games.
The Tigers, if they are in fact interested in this trade, might view Gardner as a more polished leadoff hitter. Gardner is, however, coming off of a season in which he struck out a career high 127 times. Their careers slash lines are eerily similar. Jackson has a career line of .278/.344/.416 while Gardner has slashed .268/.352/.381.
If this trade were to take place it could be cost-related. Jackson is due to see larger raises than Gardner based on performance and age. Gardner is slated to become a free agent after this season and should be somewhat affordable even in the current inflated market. The Tigers might also be seeking a mid-level prospect in return which would make sense as well.
As much as this trade is a head-scratcher it does make sense for each team. The Yankees would get a young player who was once considered their top prospect and is still fairly young. The Tigers get a leadoff hitter that makes a little more contact and is a slightly better base-stealer that won’t cost as much to retain. The Tigers and Yankees should make this happen.