Can there by any truth to the Brett Gardner – Austin Jackson rumor?

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

When Peter Gammons mentioned talk about a swap of Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson, it seemed appalling for two reasons. First, why would Detroit entertain such an idea? Second, why did Gammons claim it “makes sense for both teams”? If this is indeed on the table, shouldn’t the Yankees take it?

In the Tigers, the Yankees might have found a team that doesn’t undervalue Brett Gardner. Swapping him for Jackson, who is three and a half years younger and has two more years of team control, would indicate that the Tigers do value Gardner*. It might also indicate that, as they did when they traded Curtis Granderson to the Yankees in exchange for Jackson, that they’re looking to get rid of a player before he becomes too expensive.

*Of course, that statement could look a whole lot different if the Yankees are supposed to send additional players to Detroit.

A year ago it might have seemed insane to even entertain the idea of trading Jackson. In his age-25 season he broke out to hit .300/.377/.479, upping his power while cutting down on his strikeouts significantly. A year later he looks slightly less impressive, having hit .272/.337/.417 in roughly the same number of PA. A hamstring injury did hamper him earlier in the season. Perhaps the Tigers saw something they didn’t like and now think that perhaps Jackson’s 2012 was a standout he’s not likely to repeat.

In Gardner the Tigers would lose a year of control, but they’d gain a valuable player who slots well into their lineup and helps balance their righty-heavy approach. This goes especially after they signed Rajai Davis to a two-year deal. Instead of having the first four hitters in their lineup bat righty — Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler, in some order — they can lead off with the lefty Gardner. They might also think it more possible to sign him to an extension at a far more affordable rate than Jackson.

Jackson would better balance the Yankees’ lineup as well. Instead of leading off with the lefties Jacoby Ellsbury and Gardner, they could go with Ellsbury and Jackson, followed by Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano, giving Joe Girardi his desired lefty-righty split (with interspersed switch hitters). Jackson, who by the eye and generally by the numbers, plays good defense, could show similar value to Gardner in left, since few left fielders can cover as much ground as those two.

The trade, then, makes a little more sense from each team’s perspective. The Tigers get a player they can perhaps sign to a reasonable extension (which is probably not possible with Jackson, a Scott Boras client). The Yankees get a young player who gives them an extra year of team control. Both teams gain balance. Yet this move can’t be high on the Yankees’ priority list currently. They have areas of need, and if they’re going to trade Gardner now it would have to help cover one of them.

There is no reason, currently, to trade Gardner for anything other than a mid-rotation starting pitcher or a decent second baseman. The latter seems pretty out of the question. The former becomes a difficult proposition if teams don’t value Gardner as the Yankees do. Still, they’ll almost certainly wait out the market, seeing what they can get in exchange for Gardner on that front.

If the Yankees sign Omar Infante and Masahiro Tanaka, the situation might change. But even then, I’d rather see the Yankees explore an extension with Gardner than trade him. Given his value, and the reality that he’ll probably get a reasonable contract, it would seem a better idea to keep Gardner for four or five years rather than trade him. If, on the other hand, Gardner isn’t open to an extension, if he would rather play center and lead off for another team, then it’s easy to see why the Yankees would pull the trigger. They get two years of a player with similar current value and a higher upside, at a slightly more expensive rate.

The rumor surfaced this week, because this is the week that rumors surface. But at this point, it doesn’t make much sense for the Yankees. Swapping a good outfielder for another good outfielder in order to gain a year of control and balance the lineup is nice, but it can’t be near the top of the priority list. The Yanks have other moves to make right now, and Gardner is valuable to them. If a move like this is to occur, and there is certainly some sense in it, chances are it would come far, far closer to spring training.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Kvothe

    He’s a righty bat, but doesn’t he have a reverse split? He hits righties better than lefties.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Joey G cares not about such things.

  • Dr. TJ Eckleberg

    I dunno. I kind of like the idea. That seems like it’s the closest they’ll get in fair value, and I think he fits the Yankees lineup and needs better.

  • jsbrendog

    but, if team’s value ajax higher why not make the trade and then try to trade ajax for the pitcher they desire? it almost makes too much sense

    • jsbrendog

      damn autocorrect. *teams

    • Slugger27

      this was my thought too. it seems like theres no way the yankees could pass this trade up if it was 1 for 1. that couldnt have been the offer. i would think ajax would have a better market because of the 2 years left thing. trading HIM for a pitcher i wouldnt think would be tough.

  • ropeadope

    Repeat the rumor often enough and it becomes the truth.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.
      I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        doesn’t seem to be working…

        • The Great Gonzo

          You didn’t do it enough

      • BrianMcCannon


      • ropeadope


  • Guns

    Peter Gammons is a hack. The end.

    You’re welcome

    • Mike

      Agreed. Thank God I don’t have to listen to him on ESPN anymore. The Red Sox have gone down hill ever since he went back there.

  • New Haven

    Why is anyone even worrying about the outfield? Is everyone crazy? Gardy, Ellbury and Beltran/Suzuki are fine. Wouldn’t you think that all this pondering and worrying would be better spent on pitching possibilities? The outfield the outfield the outfield. Give us a break and maybe talk about bullpen relief and at least 2 starters. That’s what Cashman and company need to start addressing.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Because, as we’ve learned, there are many more outfielders available out there right now. And guys like Gammons get paid to talk about stuff. Its easier to talk about stuff that seems feasible, if for no other reason, the availability of outfielders in December 2013.

    • BFDeal

      I think you’re giving a single rumor far too much credence. As far as “pondering and worrying”, who exactly is doing that? Blogs, beat writers, and commenters? I didn’t know any of them had a say in management.

  • Thomas

    They probably won’t trade Gardner for a pitcher, since they are close to bringing in Kershaw in the Wells deal.

    • I’m One

      Correct. I read it on the internet somewhere, so it myst be true.

  • Dick M

    There’s a chance the Tigers are under-valuing AJax because of his recent post-season flop/disaster.

  • JoeyA

    Bye-bye David Adams.

    Would have been nice guy to have around.

    Based on nothing more than minor league track record and my opinion, i think he’s going to be a serviceable MLer.

    • Jorge Steinbrener

      Perhaps. He’s also far from the only player in that age range with marginal MLB results to bounce around this week. He’s even on the upper end, age range wise, of that. I wish him well.

  • Greg Corcoran

    I have to be honest, I think if it’s a 1:1, or even a 1:1 with the Yankees also giving up a top 20 prospect, I’m all for it. At worst they get a far more tradeable asset in Jackson. At best they get Jackson and then teams realize they aren’t getting Gardner and accept that the Yankees want to trade Ichiro for money. Then take that money and put it towards Masahiro Tanaka or a one year stopgap starter. Done and done.

    • BFDeal

      Exactly how much money do you think they’d free up trading Ichiro?

      • gageagainstthemachine

        How much does a bag of baseballs go for these days?

      • Greg Corcoran

        anywhere between $3-5 million

    • The Great Gonzo

      If you think about it though, it actually gets pricy to trade teams (from the standpoint of actually sending an executive out there to wheel and deal and costs of administration of these moves)… so maybe making trades for the sake of making trades is not cost efficient. Or maybe it doesn’t. Who gives a shit.

      What matters here is that Cashman is in the business of making trades to fill needs and make their team better, not in the business of stacking poker chips up to trade them for a hypothetical pitcher that may or may not be out there in 6-12 months.

      Either trade Gardner now for a player that will make them IMMEDIATELY better in 2014, or don’t.

      • Greg Corcoran

        But I believe this trade would make the team better now. So you are accomplishing two goals of making the team better now (and adding a year of control to the player), and also “stacking chips” as you call it.

  • Farewell Mo

    Austin Jackson worst case scenario is likely at least as valuable as Gardner and his ceiling is much, much higher. I’d make the trade in a minute if it were just those 2 straight up.

    • TWTR

      Me too and I like Gardner.

  • Dicka24

    When I see guys that k a ton like Grandy, Ajax, Swish, etc. I can’t help but think of playoff disappointment. It seems high K guys can really leave you wanting in the playoffs. One of the worst things is having a 1 out situation, with a man on third, and your batter is a swing and miss waiting to happen. Not that any player can’t strike out, but in key situations, where moving a runner over, or putting a ball in play can mean the difference in winning a series, or losing one, the more good contact hitters you have, the higher the likelihood of success there will be.

    Hey, you guys all see how Cano said he felt “disrespected” by the Yankees? Apparently there is nothing more insulting that being offered $175 million to play second base. Like the saying goes: If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

  • Dr. Grenaldine

    Now they’re both seen as the same valued player with different approaches…now why is Austin Jackson already more expensive while being younger and playing less years? I don’t get it…

    • Ryan D

      Power numbers and average. Those figures stand out, and to teams it translates into wins. Gardner is an equally valuable player with a different skill est that is under-appreciated.

  • monkeypants

    I’m not sure I understand the conclusion of this analysis, unless AJax has a no trade clause (which he surely does not). If the Yankees think he’s better than Gardner—and he seems on paper to be the better offensive player—and he’s younger, and he costs the same or less, then the Yankees should definitely make the swap. Not only because it would improve them now, but because they could still trade AJax for a pitcher. In fact, since AJax is under cost control for two years, and is younger and seems to have a higher ceiling, he should fetch *more* in a trade than Gardner.

    So, unless making this swap (which I realize was probably just rumors anyway) somehow precludes the Yankees from subsequently trading Jackson, there is no reason *not* to make the move.

  • hey now

    Gardner’s a free agent after next season, and in line for a vast overpay thanks to the scarcity of talent available on next year’s FA market.

    AJax isn’t a free agent until 2016.

    Hell yeah, I make this deal.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    If the guy can put up those numbers with a bat like the one he’s swinging in the picture….just imagine what he could do with a whole bat! TRADE TEH FARM!!

  • Cuso

    I don’t know why it makes sense for Detroit, though. Sure, AJax has some strikeout issues. And he may command a big contract after ’16, but Gardner is a FA next year.

    Unless Detroit’s rationale is to trade and sign Gardner to an extension immediately (which would likely be for less than he’d get on the open market) it doesn’t make much sense. Even if the extension were their intent, why wouldn’t they just stick with the remaining 2 years of Jackson?

    These rumors must be overblown, it just doesn’t make sense for the Tigers. I think they’re using this distraction as as misdirection when they swoop in for Choo.

  • j

    A lot of times reporters only hear part of a discussion. Perhaps this is in the larger framework of a Scherzer deal?

    • Cuso

      Come on.

    • Chris

      We could give them Gardner, Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, and Campos and it likely wouldn’t be enough.

    • New Haven

      NOW you’re talking.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    I heard the Dodgers wanted to trade Kershaw for Vernon Wells.

  • TheRealGreg

    Buster_ESPN Buster Olney
    Omar Infante is close to an agreement on a four-year deal for about $30 million with the Kansas City Royals.

  • Mike

    Offer them Ichiro + a prospect for Austin Jackson. Trade Gardner for a top of the rotation pitcher.

  • pc

    jackson is younger and a better player then gardner, if nyy were considering trading gardner why not get jackson and trade him the return should be better.
    whats not to like but i doubt if detroit would make a one for one swap it doesn’t make sense talent wise & their gm is no fool.