One rumor has the Toronto Blue Jays interested in moving on from Jose Bautista & trading for Brett Gardner, which we debunk.
Well, here we go! A new year and some not so new tricks. Apparently, when it comes to the baseball offseason, there is no point in setting resolutions. The same old stuff keeps happening, year after year. This time around, the Toronto Blue Jays may find themselves in the middle of a rumor…again. Though, this one seems a little weak.
Before we go getting to crazy about this move, we have to think about how it is presented. Varela seems to have played a game of Six Degrees of Separation to land upon this idea. Ready? Try and follow along: Toronto was talking to Bautista, They weren’t actually talking to Bautista, the Yankees are willing to listen on Gardner. That’s it. That is all that leads to a headline of “Blue Jays reportedly considering Brett Gardner, not Bautista”. With respect to Varela, it is the loosest of paths to get to a headline like that. There is no indication that the club is actually looking to pull of a trade for the 33yr old outfielder.
For entertainment’s sake, let’s go along with this one for a minute. Gardner is a left hand bat that certainly would look nice at the top of the Blue Jays lineup. 2016 was his 4th straight full time season after battling injuries in 2012. On either side of that season, he managed to stay on the field for 145-150 games. In 2016, he put up a line of .261/.351/.362 with 7 HR and 41 RBI. His homerun total dropped a bit last season, but definitely has double digit power.
Gardner gets on base and doesn’t really strike out much (16.7% in 2016), at least in comparison to other bats in the Blue Jays lineup. He’s put up a total of 26.8 WAR for his career. His defense has started to slip a bit over the last couple of years, but would still provide a solid glove in left field. That said, his starting to slip resulted in 12 DRS and a UZR/150 of 5.8 in the Yankees 2016 outfield.
Honestly, Gardner would be a good option for the Blue Jays. The problem is that his contract is rather hefty. Varela lays it out for us: “Gardner is slated to receive $25 million through 2018, with a $2 million buyout on his $12.5 option in 2019.” That is a price tag that would seem to be steep for a 33 yr old. But, let’s assume the Blue Jays would be OK with taking on his salary. The cost of acquiring him is already said to be quite high. Then, one would have to add the cost of trading within the division. The Yankees wouldn’t exactly jump at the opportunity for Gardner to help beat them 18 times a season. That is going to drive the price tag up.
Toronto doesn’t have a bevy of minor league talent to get into an escalating asking package for Gardner. It’s that simple. Even if they take on salary, the cost might simply be too high. The Yankees are looking to get young and compete at the same time. Would Toronto be willing to give them something that fits that? Really, the only thing they have is Dalton Pompey. And, if you’re going to consider that, you have to think about how much of Gardner’s performance can Pompey replicate anyway?
This rumor would appear to be just that. There is very little holding it together, and even less that would make it make sense. Like anything else, though, there could be more than we know going on behind closed doors. It could very well end up that Ross Atkins is looking at Brett Gardner and trying to make a deal work. You can bet he’s at least asked about it. But, that is a far cry from the Blue Jays moving on from Jose Bautista to considering Brett Gardner.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.