2.) Who bites on Brett Gardner?
It seems all but a foregone conclusion that the Yankees will move All-Star outfielder Brett Gardner before Opening Day. Gardner is owed less than $13 million per year in annual salary over the next three years, with an option for 2019 that can be bought out for only $2 million. In the right setting, Gardner is a 20-20 candidate. After batting close to .300 for the entire first half of the season, Gardner hit a wall, like many of his teammates, and batted only .206 after the break. Having witnessed Gardner’s undoing in the second half of the year, the Yankees may feel the time to sell high on Gardner is now. The Yankees asked Gardner to do too much in the second half, and he could not handle the pressure to really help carry a lineup. The 32-year-old should be viewed as a complimentary player at best.
The Chicago Cubs make sense as a trade partner for the Yankees, and a Starlin Castro for Gardner swap could be mutually beneficial. Both players are owed about the same amount of money, with Castro having one extra year on his contract. The Yankees need a second baseman, and the Cubs need a center fielder. Gardner is capable of playing center, and will be much cheaper over the life of his contract than Dexter Fowler will be once he signs his free-agent contract. The Seattle Mariners have also been aggressive in the trade market so far this offseason, and could use a speedy outfielder to top their lineup.