In recent weeks, New York Yankees management has stated that they have no intention of trading Brett Gardner, but that doesn’t guarantee he’s staying in pinstripes. The posting of Rakuten Golden Eagles‘ Masahiro Tanaka is still being dragged out, which is in turn prolonging the possibility of Gardner’s departure.
The Yankees have yet to sign a starting pitcher since returning Hiroki Kuroda, and that can’t sit well with Gardner. A deal was turned down by the Yankees from the Cincinnati Reds involving Gardner and second baseman Brandon Phillips. Brian Roberts was brought in since, and New York seems to be content in their search for a second baseman.
Now the Yankees are focused on signing starting pitchers, but they are shying away from free agents and are considering making a trade. Gardner looks to be their only trade chip of value in the eyes of MLB teams.
If the Yankees are able to land Tanaka, Gardner’s chances of staying in the Bronx will increase. However, if Tanaka isn’t posted or if the Yankees fail to acquire him, Gardner’s name will again appear on the trading block. Even if Gardner begins the season with the Yankees, he will have a tough time avoiding the New York media showering him with questions on trade rumors if the Yankees fail to acquire a solid starting pitcher this offseason.
There are theories that Yankees will try to fill their rotation from within by using David Phelps, Vidal Nuno or Michael Pineda, but the front office has no confidence that any of those guys can give them quality starts for a full season. Tanaka would be a picture-perfect fit for the Yankees, but it doesn’t look likely that the Bombers will get him, let alone any MLB team.
If the Yankees want to ensure that Gardner stays put and that their vision of him and Jacoby Ellsbury controlling their outfield for the next seven years comes true, it will be decided this offseason.
The Yankees aren’t interested in big-name free agents Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, and for good reason. But now they need to find another way to bring in a solid starter who has proven that he can endure the strain of a full season in order to hang on to Gardner. Paul Maholm or Bronson Arroyo could be the Yankees’ guy, but they need to make sure they pay an appropriate price.
Once the Yankees have four rotation spots secured (they currently have three spots covered by C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Kuroda), I believe Gardner will have peace of mind. Ultimately, nothing will happen until Tanaka’s fate is decided.