Analyzing Brett Gardner for Starlin Castro

The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs are reportedly in talks about swapping outfielder Brett Gardner and infielder Starlin Castro, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Castro, who turns 26 in March, lost his job as the Cubs’ starting shortstop and after a stretch on the bench, took over at second base.

Castro hit .265/.296/.375 in 2015. Over his final 120 plate appearances, he slashed an impressive .366/.390/.643 while hitting six home runs.

In the postseason Castro struggled, slashing only .176/.200/.294. The 25-year-old signed a seven-year, $60-million extension in 2012 after having back-to-back All-Star seasons. Castro, since signing, has been rather inconsistent. He hit .245 in 2013, .292 in 2014, and adding in his 2015 average of .265, Castro has hit to an average of .265 from 2013-15.

On the other hand, there are plenty of suitors that could use Gardner, especially with his reasonable contract. Gardner, who is coming off an All-Star campaign in which he slashed .259/.343/.399, is signed through the 2018 season for a very affordable $38 million. He is much more than a rental, but his 3.3 WAR could be an upgrade for many teams.

The $38 million owed to Gardner is an exact match with the $38 million owed to Castro. Castro is guaranteed that money over four years as Gardner is guaranteed that over three. Both players have a club option on their deals as well. Castro has a $16-million club option for the 2020 season, with a $1-million buyout, and Gardner has a $12.5-million club option for the 2019 season with a $2-million buyout.

This possible trade is suspect to me due to the fact that the Yankees need pitching. The idea of Gardner being moved for a young pitcher seems more logical, especially now that the Yankees have acquired Minnesota Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks for catcher John Ryan Murphy earlier this month.

The Yankees could use help at second base with the primary workload falling on rookie Rob Refsnyder and trade deadline acquisition Dustin Ackley. The Cubs will most likely lose Dexter Fowler to free agency and have no immediate replacement.

The swap would also decrease the Yankees’ 2016 payroll, perhaps opening the team to further spending on pitching.

To me the deal is a good one for both sides and it will be interesting to see how it plays out, if it happens at all.

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