Now that the awards season is over, we can resume the business of Major League Baseball’s offseason. The New York Yankees have made a couple of moves earlier this month, dealing infielder Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres for Minor League right-hander Ronald Herrera in one move. The other was a bigger one, as the Yanks acquired Minnesota Twins’ outfielder Aaron Hicks in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Having Hicks in the fold drummed up rumors that the Yanks were looking to shop Brett Gardner around and had discussions with the Seattle Mariners about him, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. With Seattle having obtained Leonys Martin from the Texas Rangers, that avenue appears to have closed. Still, with the Winter Meetings set for next month, expect more rumors of deals involving Gardner and possibly Carlos Beltran to be floating around. However:
The Yankees should not be looking to move any outfielders.
It would be nice to move Jacoby Ellsbury and that insane contract. But that is pure fantasy and I would like to think this is the real world. This is a team that was abysmal offensively in the second half of 2015 and to remove a Beltran, who was their best hitter over the final three months, or a Gardner who, while he faded because of injury, was one of the team’s better hitters for much of the season is not the way to go Surely, you can not expect a repeat performance from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in 2016. You could expect one from Gardner while Beltran, when healthy can be a force who carries the club for stretches at a time. Therein lies the other problem: health.
You know that Beltran and Ellbusry are disabled list trips waiting to happen. That it is why it is important for the Yankees to have four Major League quality outfielders. You can also slide someone over to the designated hitter spot when the inevitable trip to the DL for Rodriguez happens. New York needs to look no further than to the (here I go again) Arizona Diamondbacks on how to juggle a four-headed platoon in the outfield. The D-backs’ outfield as a whole is much better than the Yankees’ and they don’t even have a DH slot to work with. If Chip Hale, who had no Major League managerial experience prior to 2015 can figure it out, then so could Joe Girardi who is one of the best managers in the game.
Then there is the issue of value. Other teams know the Yanks are stuck with the contract of Ellsbury. They just traded for Hicks so it is unlikely they will be flipping him. That puts us back to square one of Beltran and Gardner being the most tradeable commodities. With one year left on his contract at $12 million he is valuable but how much will a team give up for a soon-to-be 39-year old outfielder with injury issues? He might be attractive only to an American League team where he does not have to play right field every day. That leaves is with Gardner, who while a good player, is not really a game-changing type of guy that a contending team might be looking for. You can get a similar outfielder such as Gerardo Parra without having to give up a player. The only way I see Gardner getting moved is if the Yanks accept a number four starter off a deep rotation.
My advice, in case someone important is reading: stand pat. Let Beltran’s contract expire. Bring up Aaron Judge in September. The Yanks can still contend if they leave the outfielders alone. Do something in-season and at the trading deadline. The way to fix this issue is to not deal your way out of it. Unless, of course, you find a sucker to take Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.