Washington Nationals Trade Target: Brett Gardner


When the president and general manager of the Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo, spoke with the media Wednesday, he talked about some of the needs that the team has to address this offseason. One of those needs was to acquire more left-handed bats for this offense:

"“We know we need to get more left-handed to balance ourselves, to balance our lineup up, so we’re cognizant of those things.” (h/t James Wagner, Washington Post)"

One left-handed bat that has been floated out there in trade rumors recently is New York Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner. Gardner has been with the Yankees since he was drafted by New York in the third round of the 2005 MLB Draft. Now, with the Yankees needing some flexibility on their roster, Gardner has been floated around in trade talks as New York looks to add more young talent.

More from District on Deck

In 151 games this year, the 32-year-old left-handed outfielder had a slash line of .259/.343/.399 with 16 home runs, 66 RBI’s, and 20 stolen bases. Over the last two seasons, Gardner has turned into more of a power hitter as he has 33 home runs over that span (23 home runs in his first six seasons combined).

During the first half of 2015, Gardner was having a campaign worthy of his All-Star selection. He hit .302 with ten home runs, 40 RBI’s, and had a .377 on-base percentage as him and Jacoby Ellsbury were a good 1-2 for Joe Girardi’s offense.

Then, Gardner’s production dropped off. He hit a mere .206 in the second half, which was one of the worst batting averages in the American League. His on-base percentage was 77 points lower than the first half and he had a slugging percentage of .292.

New York’s hitting coach, Alan Cockrell, said a couple weeks ago that those struggles were partially because of a wrist injury. That being said, when you look at Gardner’s career splits, his second half batting average of .236 is nearly 50 points lower than his first average (.285).

More from Nationals News

The problem for the Nationals in making this kind of deal is New York’s general manager, Brian Cashman, is going to want young starting pitching back in return. Gardner’s contract runs through 2018 and includes a club option of $12.5 million for 2019.

The only way this would ever work for the Nats is if Michael Taylor was the fourth outfielder, but that probably would not happen since the club is high on Taylor as the center fielder. However, you could put Gardner in center and then use him in left field on days that Jayson Werth might need off since Gardner can play both left and center field. Gardner is a left-handed hitter, which the Nationals could use in their lineup. But, considering the Yankees want Major League starting pitching in return, I don’t really see a fit for the Nats to acquire him.