Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Yankees finally got the outfielder they were looking for, and it wasn't Carlos Beltran -- he seems to be on his way to Kansas City. Instead, they signed a player that is a lot like one they already have, being Brett Gardner.

The Yankees signed Gold Glove center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract Tuesday night, giving the Yanks five outfielder, and now two center fielders.

In all likelihood, the Yankees will have Ellsbury play center field, with Gardner in left and Alfonso Soriano in right. But what if Gardner isn't with the tam on Opening Day, meaning he gets traded? That could be a possibility, writes ESPN's Jayson Stark.
Ellsbury is a clear upgrade over Gardner, and while the Yankees could move Gardner to left field, they may find more value in exploring the trade market for him given how few center fielders there are with his kind of defensive ability. Gardner's a fringy offensive player whose production is mostly in his ability to get on base, especially against right-handed pitchers, all the product of a tremendous ability to foul off pitches he can't square up; he actually saw as many pitches per plate appearance as Shin-Soo Choo, and more than guys like Mike Trout, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt.
Even with the additions made this offseason in Ellsbury and Brian McCann, the Yankees will still need to add some pitching to be a serious threat next season. And that's were Gardner could come into play.

This past season was easily Gardner's best year offensively, as he posted a .273 batting average, while hitting 8 homeruns with 52 RBIs. His stolen base numbers where down significantly from what they were in 2010 and 2011 when he stole 47 in '10 and a league-leading 49 in '11.

Coupled with his defensive capabilities -- which I thought should have made him at least a finalist to win a Gold Glove as an outfielder this year -- would make him the most ideal player on the Yankees' roster to trade.

Put him out on the market, and the Yankees are sure to draw some interest for a 30-year-old outfielder that can get on base, provide speed on the base paths, and play Gold Glove caliber defense. Plenty of teams are looking for a center fielder him Gardner, and they might be willing to give up exactly what the Yankees are looking for.

Also read: Yankees still have work to do in order to contend after signing Ellsbury.


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