5:08pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that Gardner is not part of the current talks between the Yankees and Cubs. Sherman adds that the two teams are working on multiple scenarios in trade talks. Sherman also tweets that Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t involved in talks. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports characterizes the trade talks as “in early stages” (Twitter link).
4:53pm: The Cubs and Yankees are discussing a trade that would send infielder Starlin Castro to New York, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Rosenthal recently reported that the Cubs were in on Ben Zobrist but needed other moves to come together before they could bring him on board. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported last month that the Yankees and Cubs had discussed a trade involving Castro and Brett Gardner, though it’s not clear if Gardner is involved in this iteration of talks.
Moving Castro would open up second base to either give Javier Baez a full-time look or to clear a spot for a Zobrist signing. On paper, a swap of Castro and Gardner would make sense. The remaining $38MM on Castro’s contract is an exact match with the remaining $38MM on Gardner’s deal, though Castro is guaranteed that sum over the life of four full seasons, whereas Gardner is promised $38MM over the next three years. Both players have a club option on their deal — a $16MM club option for the 2020 season ($1MM buyout) in Castro’s case and a $12.5MM club option for the 2019 season ($2MM buyout) in Gardner’s case.
Castro signed a seven-year, $60MM extension with Chicago back in August of 2012 at the tail end of what was a second consecutive All-Star season for the then-22-year-old. Since that time, he’s sandwiched an excellent 2014 campaign in between a pair of awful seasons at the plate, leading to a cumulative .265/.303/.383 batting line from 2013-15.
Gardner, meanwhile, had a typically strong first half but wilted in the second half of 2015 as he battled a wrist injury. Yankees hitting coach Alan Cockrell told the Journal News’ Chad Jennings last month that a seemingly innocuous hit-by-pitch early in the season actually submarined Gardner’s production in the second half. Gardner’s bat began to fade once he had received the maximum-allotted three cortisone shots a player can have in any one season.