Potential trade partners for Brett Gardner dwindling due to hot stove activity

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees right now are very much open to trading pricey veterans for prospects. They sold big time at the deadline and continued selling in the offseason by sending Brian McCann to the Astros for two Single-A pitching prospects. The Yankees have reportedly dangled Brett Gardner and Chase Headley in trade talks this winter, and I’m sure they’d love to move Jacoby Ellsbury too, but, you know.

Two teams that stood out as obvious suitors for Gardner addressed their outfield needs last week. The Nationals traded for Adam Eaton and the Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler. Both clubs needed a defensively competent center fielder — Gardner plays left for the Yankees in deference to Ellsbury, but he could still handle center full-time, no problem — and a top of the order on-base guy. The Nats and Cards went in another direction.

Gardner is a good player, not a great one, and the two years and $23M left on his contract is not unreasonable. And besides, the Yankees have shown a willingness to eat money to facilitate trades. They did it with Carlos Beltran at the deadline and McCann a few weeks ago. Salary shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is finding a team that actually needs Gardner, a defense first outfielder with on-base skills. Here are the remaining potential trade partners I came up with.

Baltimore Orioles

Adam Jones needs some help. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Adam Jones needs some help. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Current Outfield: Adam Jones in center and Hyun-Soo Kim in left, with Joey Rickard and Rule 5 Draft picks Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez candidates for right. They also have the option of moving Chris Davis to right field and playing prospect Trey Mancini at first.

Why Would They Want Gardner? He’s a heck of a lot better than Rickard and the Rule 5 Draft kids — Santander has never played above High-A — and he’d give the O’s a legitimate leadoff hitter, something they really lack. Jones was their leadoff hitter most of this past season. Yeah. Also, the Orioles have an opening at DH, remember. They could put Gardner in left, Kim at DH (where he fits best), and stick with the kids in right.

So Are They A Fit? Yes with the caveat that they’re an AL East rival, and intradivision trades are rare. I don’t think that closes the door completely, it just makes it unlikely. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman told Bryan Hoch he’d have no problem trading with the Orioles.

“If I can trade with the Red Sox and the Mets, I can trade with the Orioles. I can trade with anybody. If it’s in our best interest, whether it’s short- or long-term, it doesn’t matter what the other teams get. Does it make sense for us? If it happens to be them, I don’t really care.”

What do the O’s have to offer the Yankees for Gardner? Geez, beats me. Their farm system isn’t in great shape (here’s their MLB.com top 30 prospects list) and I doubt they’d be willing to give up pieces from their big league roster. I’m sure the Yankees could find some combination of minor leaguers to make it work though.

Cleveland Indians

Current Outfield: Tyler Naquin in center and Lonnie Chisenhall in right. Brandon Guyer and Abe Almonte are expected to hold down left field until Michael Brantley returns from shoulder surgery.

Why Would They Want Gardner? Not too many reasons at this point. The Indians seem focused on adding a big middle of the order bat to share first base and DH with Carlos Santana, and I suppose if those plans go awry, they could circle back and import Gardner to be part of a rotating DH system. He’d give them a more traditional leadoff hitter too. They used Santana at leadoff most of last season, which was somewhat a waste of his power because he batted with fewer men on base.

So Are They A Fit? Nah, I don’t think so. Naquin had a nightmare postseason but a very good regular season, good enough to finish third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting and earn a starting spot in 2017. They’ll ride it out with Almonte and Guyer until Brantley returns, which could be as soon as April.

Detroit Tigers

Current Outfield: Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez on the corners, with Anthony Gose and JaCoby Jones in the mix for center. Tyler Collins could get a crack at the job too, though he’s best in a corner.

Why Would They Want Gardner? Gardner is much better than the group of players vying for Detroit’s center field job at the moment. Of course, the Tigers traded away Cameron Maybin earlier this winter, and they seem to be scaling back on payroll a bit. Salary dumping Maybin only to turn around and acquire Gardner would be a bit weird, don’t you think?

Of course, plans change, and the Tigers are looking at a more winnable AL Central right now. The Twins stink, the White Sox are selling, and the Royals might have to sell at the deadline since basically their entire core will hit free agency next winter. The Tigers won 86 games in 2016 despite going 4-14 (4-14!) against the Indians. What are the odds of that happening again? Small. Gardner would improve their chances in a much more winnable division.

So Are They A Fit? Maybe! I think the Yankees would have to eat money to make a trade happen, which I doubt would be a deal-breaker. If the Yankees ate money to trade Beltran and McCann, I’m sure they’d do the same for Gardner.

Oakland Athletics

Jake Smolinski was the A's everyday center fielder in the second half. (Stephen Brashear/Getty)
Jake Smolinski was the A’s everyday center fielder in the second half. For reals. (Stephen Brashear/Getty)

Current Outfield: Some combination of Khris Davis, Matt Joyce, Brett Eibner, and Jake Smolinski. Did you know Khris Davis hit 42 home runs in 2016? True story.

Why Would They Want Gardner? The A’s are in the market for a center fielder this offseason, it’s been reported everywhere, and they’ve most recently been connected to Jarrod Dyson of the Royals. Gardner is a very similar player (lefty hitting leadoff type with speed and defense) who happens to be much more expensive. But again, if the Yankees are willing to eat money, his contract may not be an obstacle.

So Are They A Fit? Maybe. The Athletics are a weird team that seems to be stuck between going for it and rebuilding. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they traded for an outfielder making $23M over the next two years despite losing at least 93 games the last two seasons. They’re weird like that.

San Francisco Giants

Current Outfield: Denard Span in center and Hunter Pence in right, with Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker slated to platoon in left. Gorkys Hernandez has a leg up on a bench job.

Why Would They Want Gardner? Left field is wide open. Williamson and Parker did an okay job as platoon partners while Pence was on the disabled list this summer — they hit a combined .230/.338/.402 with eleven homers in 278 plate appearances in 2016, but also struck out 28.5% of the time — though neither is a long-term building block. Williamson is the young one at 26. Parker turns 28 in three weeks.

Gardner would, at a minimum, give the Giants an above-average defender for that spacious left field at AT&T Park. In also guessing he’d outproduce a Williamson/Parker platoon at the plate over a full 162-game season. The Mark Melancon signing pushed San Francisco over the luxury tax threshold and they don’t want to go much higher, so Gardner’s contract could be an issue. Then again, the Giants are built to win right now, while Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are still in their primes, and left field is a sore spot.

So Are They A Fit? Yes, definitely. The Giants have enough prospects to cobble together a trade package (here is their MLB.com top 30 prospects list) and the Yankees could eat money to make things work on San Francisco’s end with regards to the luxury tax. The Giants are a fit. A great fit. No doubt.

Seattle Mariners

Current Outfield: Leonys Martin in the middle with some combination of Seth Smith, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, Mitch Haniger, and possibly even Danny Valencia in the corners.

Why Would They Want Gardner? As an alternative to that hodgepodge of platoon veterans and mid-range prospects slated for the corners. The Mariners are trying to win right now. I mean, they should be. Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz aren’t going to be this productive forever, so anything Seattle can do to improve their short-term chances qualifies as a good move in my book. Gardner represents an upgrade.

So Are They A Fit? Yes in theory, no in reality. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has said his team is too left-handed at the moment, which Gardner would only exacerbate. Also, they seem committed to playing those kids in the outfield. So while there is a fit on paper here, I don’t see it happening.

Texas Rangers

Mystery Rangers outfielder. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)
Mystery Rangers outfielder. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Current Outfield: Carlos Gomez in center, Shin-Soo Choo in right, and Nomar Mazara in left. Delino DeShields Jr. and Ryan Rua are the depth options.

Why Would They Want Gardner? The Rangers have no first baseman or designated hitter at the moment. Adding Gardner would allow them to slide Mazara over to right field, his natural position, and put Choo at DH full-time, which is where he belongs at this point. Texas has money and prospects to trade, plus an obvious opening for Gardner in the lineup and on the field.

So Are They A Fit? Yes. Whether the Rangers are willing to make a trade is another matter. They may prefer to hang on to their prospects and address those first base and DH openings through free agency. There are still plenty of those players available.

Toronto Blue Jays

Current Outfield: lol

Why Would They Want Gardner? Kevin Pillar is still the center fielder. That much is clear. But after losing out on Fowler, the Blue Jays have Melvin Upton, Steve Pearce, Ezequiel Carrera, and Dalton Pompey penciled in as their corner outfielders. That might be the worst outfield unit in baseball. Gardner would give them a legitimate left fielder and leadoff hitter, allowing them to slide Devon Travis lower in the order, in a run producing spot. That would be a big help considering they effectively replaced Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista with Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. I’m sure that’ll work out fine.

So Are They A Fit? Yes in the same way the Orioles are a fit. The Blue Jays could use Gardner, for sure, but to get him, they’d have to swing a rare intradivision trade. It’s not impossible. Just really tough to do. There’s a reason you don’t see them often. Everyone’s afraid of losing a trade to a division rival.

Rosenthal: Rangers made last minute push for Ivan Nova

(Andy Lyons/Getty)
(Andy Lyons/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal (video link), the Rangers made a last minute push for Ivan Nova prior to the August 1st trade deadline. The two sides exchanged proposals, and Rosenthal says talks occurred so late they might not have had time to review medical information before the deadline. Nova was instead traded to the Pirates for two prospects.

Nova, 29, had a tough start yesterday but has generally been very good for Pittsburgh. He has a 2.93 ERA (2.67 FIP) in nine starts and 55.1 innings since the trade deadline. Nine starts since the deadline? Was it really that long ago? Geez. Anyway, I’m guessing more than one team made a run at Nova before the deadline given the general need for pitching around the league. I have a few thoughts on this.

1. What would have been a comparable package from Texas? The Yankees received two players to be named later for Nova and they were legitimate prospects: outfielder Tito Polo and lefty Stephen Tarpley. They’re not high-end prospects — the Yankees traded Ivan Nova, not Greg Maddux — but they’re bonafide prospects with a chance to help the Yankees at the big league level or as trade chips at some point.

Both Tarpley and Polo were at High-A at the time of the trade. Tarpley’s a bit of a ‘tweener in that he has quality stuff but may lack the command to start long-term, while Polo is a toolsy player who may profile best as a fourth outfielder. Using MLB.com’s top 30 Rangers prospects list, here’s a list of comparable Rangers prospects:

  • RHP Pedro Payano: “Payano may lack a plus pitch, but he has three effective offerings and knows how to use them.”
  • RHP Jonathan Hernandez: “Hernandez may not have more of a ceiling than No. 4 starter, he’s a safe bet to remain in the rotation and could advance quickly.”
  • RHP Tyler Ferguson: “The bullpen might be the best destination for him anyway, because he’ll never have fine command and has yet to show aptitude for throwing an offspeed pitch.”
  • OF Jose Almonte: “Almonte’s below-average speed and quickness precipitated his move from third base but shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a competent right fielder.”

This isn’t an apples to apples comparison, of course. I was just looking for Single-A players who fit the “maybe a starter, likely a reliever” and “toolsy fourth outfielder” profiles. The Rangers system isn’t all that deep in those types of players. They have a lot of teenage infielders in the back of their top 30 prospects list.

Anyway, the point is the Yankees probably weren’t missing out on anything great by trading Nova to the Pirates instead of the Rangers. Some Single-A prospects with iffy profiles work out. Most don’t. That’s baseball.

2. The Yankees had to trade Nova. I have a hard time believing anyone would think otherwise. The Yankees sat 5.5 games back of a wildcard spot and they were coming off four straight losses the morning of the trade deadline. They had just been swept by the last place Rays. There was no reason to think they would miraculously storm back into the race, even temporarily.

Nova is an impending free agent and he was not a qualifying offer candidate because he’d pitched to a 4.99 ERA (4.98 FIP) in 191.1 innings following Tommy John surgery. They could either keep him, get another 12-13 mediocre starts, then lose him for nothing after the season, or they could trade him for some lottery tickets. Regardless of whether Nova went to the Rangers or Pirates or some other team, the Yankees were smart to move him.

3. No, the Yankees shouldn’t try to re-sign Nova. Nova’s the big winner here because there seems to be a belief that the Pirates are magicians and can fix any pitcher — why did they have to trade for Nova in the first place if that’s true? — and Nova is the latest example. Someone’s going to pay him good money in the weak free agent class, the same way J.A. Happ and Edinson Volquez made more than expected after leaving Pittsburgh.

Does that mean the Yankees should try to re-sign Nova? That’s an easy no for me. I’m not convinced his recent success is the result of anything more than a favorable schedule — he’s faced the Reds, Brewers, and Phillies six times in his nine starts — and a friendly home ballpark in the non-DH league. Nova might only be fixed the same way Phil Hughes was fixed with the Twins in 2014. Ivan’s going to get paid this winter and good for him. The 700-something innings in pinstripes far outweigh the 50-something innings with the Pirates in my opinion.

Yanks send Carlos Beltran to Rangers for three prospects

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The tear down of the 2016 Yankees has continued. Carlos Beltran has been traded to the Rangers for three prospects, both clubs announced. The three prospects are all right-handed pitchers: Dillon Tate, Nick Green, and Erik Swanson. Evan Grant says the Yankees are paying the remainder of Beltran’s $15M salary this season, which they supposedly did not want to do. So much for that.

Beltran has been, by no small margin, the Yankees’ best hitter this season. No one else is even close. Beltran has hit .304/.344/.546 (134 wRC+) with 21 doubles and 22 homers in 99 total games. He leads the team in basically everything. Pick an offensive stat and Carlos is atop the Yankees’ leaderboard. That’s why he was an All-Star this season. Beltran hit .270/.327/.470 (115 wRC+) in three seasons in pinstripes.

The Yankees had the option of keeping Beltran and making him the qualifying offer after the season, but I didn’t love that plan for a number of reasons. They were able to turn him into three prospects, including the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, mostly because the Rangers lost Prince Fielder to season-ending neck surgery a few days ago and have seen their AL West lead shrink from eleven games to two games in, like, two weeks. Texas was desperate.

Tate is the biggest prospect in the trade and he was the aforementioned fourth overall pick in last year’s draft. His prospect stock has already taken a big hit though, mostly because his velocity has fluctuated wildly and he’s had some hamstring problems this summer. Also, a 5.12 ERA (4.43 FIP) as a 22-year-old in Low-A is straight up bad, especially for a guy who went fourth overall out of a major college program (UC Santa Barbara) just last year.

For the time being, I consider Tate more of a lottery ticket pickup than a bonafide top prospect. That isn’t to say it’s a bad trade. Getting a guy with Tate’s upside and pedigree for a rental 39-year-old, even one as good as Beltran, is pretty great. I just need to see more consistent velocity, more strikeouts (19.0%), and fewer walks (9.3%) before I run him up the prospect rankings. Here’s a snippet of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

Tate can dominate hitters with two pitches, a lively 92-98 mph fastball and a sharp 85-89 mph slider … He has improved his changeup since he started using it more often, but it still has a ways to go before it becomes a reliable third pitch … Most scouts think he can remain a starter because he’s so athletic, which helps him throw strikes and should allow him to stay healthy and smooth out his delivery.

Green and Swanson, the other two prospects coming to the Yankees, were also 2015 draftees like Tate. Green was selected in the seventh round and Swanson in the eighth round. It’s worth noting the Yankees drafted Green out of high school back in the 35th round of the 2013 draft. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence they acquired him now. He still has some fans in the organization.

The 21-year-old Green has a 4.98 ERA (3.17 FIP) with a great strikeout rate (27.7%) and an okay walk rate (8.8%) in 34.1 Low-A innings this year. He’s an arm strength guy with good athleticism who’s run his fastball up to 95 mph. A work in progress curveball is his second offering. Swanson, 22, has a 3.43 ERA (3.25 FIP) with a 22.9% strikeout rate and a 7.4% walk rate in 81.1 High-A innings this season. He’s a four-pitch fastball/slider/curveball/changeup guy.

The Yankees did not have to trade Beltran but they kinda did. The trade proves he had more value than the supplemental pick the team would have received after the season had he rejected the qualifying offer, and the Yankees need as much young talent as they can get. Beltran’s value was not sky high because he’s had some injury issues and is a defensive liability, so landing a lottery ticket like Tate is a nice get. Green and Swanson are gravy.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Monday

Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The 2016 non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, and the Yankees have already been very active. One of the most active teams in baseball, really. Within the last week they traded Aroldis Chapman, traded Andrew Miller, and added Tyler Clippard. Chances are they aren’t done either.

“Stay tuned. A lot more things could happen,” said Brian Cashman to reporters during a conference call following the Miller and Clippard trades yesterday. “If you want to become a super team, there are ways you have to go about it. We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber-team, and a sustainable one.”

Here are Sunday’s rumors. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankee-related rumors right here in this post. I’m going to be running around a bit today — bad timing, I know, but family first — and will do my best to update things promptly. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:00am: The Astros, Red Sox, Indians, and Rangers are all in on Carlos Beltran. He has not yet been asked to waive his limited no-trade clause and, unsurprisingly, a trade with Boston is considered unlikely. I’m sure the thought of Beltran helping the BoSox win the World Series makes ownership squeamish, even if it means making the best possible deal. Some clubs want the Yankees to eat money to facilitate a trade. [Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Jon Heyman]
  • 9:00am: The Yankees continue to listen to offers for Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Pineda. They also want to unload impending free agent Ivan Nova prior to today’s deadline. [Joel Sherman]
  • 12:03pm: McCann remains a possibility for the Braves. They want the Yankees to eat a bunch of money and the Yankees want good prospects in return, so there are some things that need to be worked out. [Mark Bowman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Saturday

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The trade deadline is creeping closer and closer. It’s less than 55 hours away right now, and so far the Yankees have made just one deal, the Aroldis Chapman swap. To be fair, it’s not like a ton of trades are happening around the league. There’s been one or two a day this last week, and none have been particularly exciting. Chapman’s been by far the best player traded this week.

Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s trade rumblings right here. Or try to, anyway. I’m going to be running around all day today, so I can’t promise prompt updates, but I’ll do my best. The Yankees tend to keep things close to the vest anyway. It’s not like the last few days have been full of rumors. Here are Friday’s rumblings and here’s what’s happening today. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:00am: Brian Cashman has been given the thumbs up to trade Ivan Nova, but not yet Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi. Ownership is still hanging on to that “this team can contend!” silliness. Hopefully it’s just posturing. [Joel Sherman]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees and Indians have discussed all sorts of trade scenarios, including some involving Carlos Beltran. Cleveland doesn’t have much payroll wiggle room though and that’s an obstacle. In my opinion the Yankees should be very willing to eat money if it means getting better players in return. Flex that financial muscle. [Jon Heyman]
  • 10:00am: Brian Cashman told the Giants very early on that they didn’t have the prospects to get Chapman or Andrew Miller. Harsh? Maybe. But it’s good to get that out there early rather than string the Giants along and waste everyone’s time. [Sherman]
  • 1:53pm: The Yankees are gauging Brian McCann‘s market and the Braves have interest in a reunion. New York wants real prospects in return and doesn’t want to eat money. The Braves, naturally, want the Yankees to eat some of the $34M owed to McCann from 2017-18 and give up lower rated prospects. McCann has a no-trade clause but is from the Atlanta area, so he may be willing to waive it to go home and help the Braves open their new park next season. [Jon Heyman, Buster Olney, Joel Sherman]
  • 1:58pm: The Rangers have touched base with the Yankees about Beltran, but talks don’t appear to be serious. Texas lost Prince Fielder to season-ending neck surgery a few days ago, creating an opening at DH. [T.R. Sullivan]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Friday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

As you may have heard, a fake rumor was going around last night that Carlos Beltran had been traded to the Indians. Actually, it wasn’t a fake rumor, per se. It came from this MLB.com article with a bunch of trade suggestions, and Twins people put the deals up on the dang Target Field scoreboard. The internet was abuzz for a few minutes, but no, there was no Beltran trade. Not yet, anyway.

The trade deadline is less than 80 hours away now, and since the Aroldis Chapman trade earlier this week, things have been rather quite around the Yankees. That’s not all that uncommon. They tend to keep things close to the vest. You can read through Thursday’s rumors right here. There’s not too many of them though. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related trade rumors right here, so check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: The Rangers have remained in contact with the Yankees about Ivan Nova as well as Andrew Miller and Beltran. Possibly Michael Pineda too. Texas is short on pitching, and they just lost Prince Fielder to season-ending neck surgery, so they have a hole at DH too. [Joel Sherman]
  • 1:39pm: The Nationals are believed to be willing to trade Lucas Giolito for Andrew Miller, straight up. This seems like a leak designed to get someone else to blink. Who? I’m not sure. [Jon Morosi]
  • 1:56pm: Word is the Yankees would need “three times as much” as they received for Chapman to trade Miller. That doesn’t mean they want 12 players in return (duh), they want higher quality players. That makes sense. The Cubs got one postseason run from Chapman. Whoever gets Miller gets three postseason runs. [Jon Heyman]
  • 2:15pm: The Yankees would not trade Miller for Giolito straight up. I’m in the minority, but I agree with that. The Yankees are right to demand more. Giolito’s great, but he’s not some kind of generational talent, and his performance in the minors hasn’t matched the stuff. [Heyman]
  • 2:22pm: If the Nationals are willing to trade Giolito for Miller, they’ve yet to approach the Yankees about it. [Sherman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Wednesday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees sure do know how to make things complicated, don’t they? Rather than continue to fade out of the postseason race and into obscurity, the Yankees have gone 11-5 in their last 16 games to climb to within four games of the second wildcard spot. There are still three teams ahead of them, but hey, that’s better than six. FanGraphs put their postseason odds at 10.1% as of this writing.

Two days ago the Yankees made what can no doubt be described as a “sellers” trade when they shipped Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three minors leaguers. Will they continue to sell pieces before Monday’s trade deadline? Or will the recent hot streak prompt them to go out and add help? I guess we’ll find out over the next five days. Here are Tuesday’s rumors. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees’ rumors right here, so check back often for updates. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: The Yankees seek big league ready players in any Andrew Miller trade. They were willing to take true minor league prospects for Chapman, but not Miller. They want players who can help right now. That’s smart. There’s no urgency to trade Miller given his contract situation. Someone’s going to have to blow them away. [Joel Sherman]
  • 9:30am: In addition to the Marlins, the Rangers are also in the mix for Ivan Nova. The Yankees are said to be looking to move Nova next now that Chapman’s gone. He’s a rental and he hasn’t pitched all that well, but there are so few quality starters on the market that I bet they get something halfway decent for him. [George King]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.