Gardner for Jackson: If it’s true, let it be done

austin-jackson-azflThere have been several rumors stemming from a tweet by Peter Gammons that the Yankees could be looking to swap Brett Gardner for former prospect and now Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson. As with any rumor, take this one with a grain of the tiniest salt imaginable. When you investigate a bit further though, the trade would make some sense for both teams.

For the Tigers, they would get Gardner. They just signed Rajai Davis and are in need of a lefty bat at the top of their order. Their first four right now are all right handed (Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler). While they just got rid of a big contract in Fielder, they also could be looking to dump more money in the future. Gardner would be cheaper both short term and long term for the Tigers, and they would have an easier time re-signing him to a long term contract than Jackson. Jackson also had a poor playoff performance with Detroit, and they may be looking to move on from him for that reason.

Then you have the Yankees. They just picked up Jacoby Ellsbury, a souped up version of Gardner who hits for more power, steals more bases, and hits for a better average. The Yankees could use a right handed presence in their lineup, and Jackson would fit the bill. Jackson is also under contract for two years. With Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano’s contracts expiring after this season, and Ichiro & Wells on the first train out of town hopefully this offseason, there is a vacancy in the outfield coming next year. Jackson could fill that opening.

Some might argue that this deal wouldn’t accomplish what the Yankees need; to obtain pitching, a second baseman, or a third baseman. That would be an accurate statement. It also, however, does not prevent the Yankees from continuing to pursue that goal via trade, free agency, or otherwise. What it does do is give the Yankees an outfielder who performed as well if not better than Gardner in 2013 and has far more upside in the future. On top of that, he is under contract for two more years, not just one like Gardner.

The main knock against this trade is that it prevents the Yankees from trading Gardner for a third starter. There are two problems with this argument. First of all, what you want in a trade and what you can get in a trade are two completely different things. No one is offering a legitimate third starter for Brett Gardner or Cashman would already know about it. You can’t create a trade out of thin air, and the teams who like Gardner might not have a number three they’re willing to give up. Furthermore the teams who have a number three starter they’re willing to give up may not like Brett Gardner.

The other problem with the above argument is the fact that it doesn’t prevent the Yankees from trading for a third starter. In fact, it actually makes it more feasible. Austin Jackson likely has more value on the trade market than Gardner. He has more years, more upside, and more star power. No one is giving the Yankees a good third starter for Gardner, but I’d be willing to bet Cashman could get one for Jackson. Why not work a three team deal, or just hold onto Jackson and either see what you can get for him or go into the season with AJax as the starting left fielder. It’s a win-win for the Yankees.

When it comes to one for one deals, you always take the deal if you are the Yankees and you are getting the better player. This is of course provided that the player’s contract is not an albatross. Austin Jackson’s contract is not. Of course the Tigers may be asking for prospects on top of Brett Gardner. Depending on the prospect, I still do the deal. I’d add on a top 20 prospect and take Jackson in a heartbeat. He is the better player now and in the future, and on top of that he has more trade value.

Finally, this trade would allow the Yankees to pursue what they really want anyway. To trade Ichiro. They will have the option of trading Jackson in their back pocket, but they can more believably say that he is their outfielder of the future and they are not interested in trading him. This will bring Ichiro to the forefront, and teams will stop pestering the Yankees about Brett Gardner hoping to pry away the better asset. A market for Ichiro will develop and someone will pick up anywhere between $3-5 million of his contract. The Yankees won’t get a prospect return, but who cares? They can take that $3 million in salary cap space and sweeten the pot for a Masahiro Tanaka contract. If Tanaka doesn’t get posted, they can take that money put it towards the stopgap of their choosing for 2013. This is the most farfetched, but still possible scenario in a Gardner and Austin Jackson trade.

Overall, I can’t think of a single negative in trading for Austin Jackson, depending of course on what deal is on the table. If Cashman turned down this deal, hopefully he has a reasonable explanation as to why. As with all trade rumors, we may not know all of the answers and information until a time when no one will care anyway. This is one avenue (other than Rivera Avenue), that the Yankees will hopefully go down soon though.

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24 Responses to Gardner for Jackson: If it’s true, let it be done

  1. mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

    Yankees said they would only trade Gardner for the best and they really don't want to part from him. I really don't think that Cashman would do this deal.. And I'm hearing it's highly doubtful the Yankees will trade Gardner.

  2. Jack says:

    The Yankees should make this deal in a heartbeat Also both teams should see if this deal could be expanded by including other players

  3. Gmat54 says:

    I thought Jackson was high strikeout guy? His defense wasn't so great in playoffs for Tigers.

  4. mikefoxtrot says:

    Gardner isn't the sort of lefty bat that the Tigers require to breakup their righthanded bats……. he sits 1st or 9th in any batting order and isn't breaking up anything.

    the rumor seems ridiculous as there's no reason why the Tigers would benefit from it.

    • gcorcoran says:

      If he bats first that will still be more variability than RRRR. LRRR mixes it up just as much as RLRR or RRLR. It still forces a right handed pitcher to face a lefty at the top of the lineup.

      • mikefoxtrot says:

        no, greg, it does not, particularly when the L bat isn't a power threat……. there's no disincentive to pitch a righthander against them..

        • gcorcoran says:

          If I'm a manager, I'm not worried about "disincentivizing" a team to pitch a right hander. I'm just thinking about what's best for the team. It is better for the team if you have a lefty to go up against a right hander. That's all I'm saying here.

  5. All this guy does is strike out…… Just saying nobody's got time for that!!!

    • gcorcoran says:

      Legit concern. Strikeouts don't bother me though as long as the player hits for a high average and/or gets on base. I'm much more a fan of Jackson than Gardner, and I think the Yankees would be making a mistake to pass up on this given their current lineup.

  6. Tanned Tom says:

    Jackson is already more expensive and inconsistent, plus Gardner is better in the field. No trade.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I'm okay with inconsistent though when your bad season is still more productive than Brett Gardner's average season.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        Gardner's career slash: .268/.352/.381 88, 104, 42
        Jackson's : .278/.344/.416 per 162 games: runs 112, SOs 174, SBs 20

        So Jackson offers a bit more power, a slightly lower OBP, less speed on the bases, and significantly more strike outs. Add to that Gardner is definitely a better fielder and I don't see how Jackson is better. Plus, Jackson is already making more than Gardner will earn even after arbitration. And a player can strike out a ton IF he is a HR hitter, but otherwise it's a problem. I think any edge Jackson has offensively is eliminated because of the strike outs, which still leaves you with Gardner's edge with the glove. Nope, doesn't make sense to add a prospect to this deal and get the more expensive player.
        Why does Detroit want to make this swap if Jackson is the better player?

        • gcorcoran says:

          For the reasons outlined in the article. To be honest it doesn't make a ton of sense to me why they are trying to trade him for Gardner. On the other hand it does make sense to me why the Yankees should want Jackson. Your stats above are well received, and I definitely see your point. I am not a huge fan of strikeouts either. They just don't bother me as much when a player has a good OBP and average. Moreover, Jackson has much more power than Gardner. He has nearly double the amount of homeruns as Gardner in two less seasons. He also has far more doubles and triples in his career in two less seasons than Gardner. He is not a slap hitter, Gardner is.

          Don't get me wrong here, I am a big fan of Brett Gardner. I can definitely see your points on why you would like to keep him. I think there are some good points on either side. I prefer Jackson though.

          • Tanned Tom says:

            Gardner per 162 games: 6 HRs, 8 Triples, 22 doubles
            Jackson 12 11 33

            so yeah Jackson offers more power, no one is disputing that. And I can understand you preferring him. I was very much against the trade that sent him to Detroit in the first place. But honestly we're not talking middle of the order hitters, so the small power difference is not so important. I just feel that for such a high strike out hitter there should be substantially more power. Since either projects as a #2 hitter for the Yanks, there's no way I'd want so many KOs in the #2 spot. For a lead off type hitter, you have to go with the higher OBP and more steals and a better stealing %. What is in Jackson's favor is his age.

  7. olie says:

    Tigers would never make that deal!

  8. Michael R says:

    Gardner's a keeper unless the Yanks can get a consistent starter.

  9. Vin Giordano says:

    wasnt he originally in the yankees farm system?? doesnt he strike out 150+ times a year….brett garner is yankee pride material..you cant buy that loyalty…..if anything you must get a quality pitcher in his 20s….

  10. @Jim_Catfish says:

    I say keep Gardner. The end.

  11. Maybe the Yanks can get Phil Coke included in the trade as well. After all, they lost the 2 of them in the same 3 team trade (along with Ian Kennedy) that involved the Diamondbacks as well as the Yanks and Tigers. They do need a lefty out of the pen since Logan is gone.

    Gardy's Luxury Tax hit is $4 million, Jackson's will be more which works against Plan 189 if there is indeed a desire to stick to that. You can make a case that if the deal is done Jackson is a stronger "chip" that can bring back a better pitcher or infielder since he does have an additional year on his contract and is arguably the superior player.

    I know Jackson had a tough post-season but did start to hit when dropped to 7th in the line-up. Apparently, the money is an issue for the Tigers but they did shed a bunch in jettisoning Prince Fielder. Perhaps the few million they can save in substituting Gardner for Jackson is a bigger issue than one may think since they want to lock in Miguel Cabrera before his walk year.