The New York Yankees are on the verge of completing a one-year deal with veteran outfield Brett Gardner, a stape in the organization, and a leader in the locker room. Gardner is a savvy player that has managed to revive his career after 12 seasons as a professional, hitting 28 homers and 72 RBIs during the 2019 campaign — both career highs.
General manager Brian Cashman brought Gardner back on a one-year, $7.5 million deal in 2019, which proved to be a stellar move, considering he started a majority of the season in the outfield and played a key role on supplementing injuries to regular starters.
If the Yankees do complete a deal with the veteran, they will have a few alternative decisions to make. One will be regarding Clint Frazier, who’s value seems to be better allocated in a trade rather than keeping him around to feature on the active roster.
Finding a home for Frazier shouldn’t be too hard, considering his lightning-quick bat and offensive production. His defense is where things start to get murky, a factor that played a significant part in his designation for assignment midway through the season.
Some rumors have suggested that Frazier could be a perfect trade candidate with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who currently have left-hander Robby Ray, a former 2017 NL All-Star. This is a scenario worth exploring if the Bombers miss out on top free-agent arm, Gerrit Cole.
However, the Yankees are all-in on Cole and have “total focus” on getting a deal done, according to MLB Insider, Jon Heyman.
ESPN baseball writer David Schoenfield detailed why the Yanks could be interested in Ray, though, who will head into free agency in 2021. This would be a win-win for the Diamondback, as they receive a promising, young player in exchange for a pitcher in a contract year.
“Ray-to-the-Yankees rumors popped up last season, and the Yankees would love to see what new pitching coach Matt Blake and the club’s analytics staff could do with the hard-throwing lefty who has averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine over the past three seasons but still fights his control.
My argument would land against this theoretical trade, due to the Yankees’ desire to lock Cole into a multi-year deal. With the expectation that a deal will go through in the coming days, focusing on their relief pitching might be a better allocation of time and effort.
Frazier’s value is enough to find a bullpen arm that can supplement the loss of Dellin Betances if Cashman lets him walk. Nonetheless, with Gardner’s expected retention and Mike Tauchman’s presence, the Yankees don’t need Frazier’s services, making him expendable for the right price.