Brett Gardner for Austin Jackson Makes Sense for Yankees and Tigers

Yankees RumorsThe Yankees and Tigers appear to be on two separate missions this winter, but they could come together for one deal. No, the Yankees won’t be getting a starting pitcher they still need and the Tigers wouldn’t be receiving power to help fill the void of Prince Fielder‘s departure to Texas, nor would they get a late inning arm to replace Joaquin Benoit (and setup for Joe Nathan).

Instead, New York and Detroit have been rumored to be in talks about swapping two out fielders, in this case, Brett Gardner and former Yankees’ prospect, Austin Jackson.

And the deal would make sense for both sides.

Jackson is expected to make over $5 million after arbitration and will be a free agent after 2015. At 27-years-old, he is headed into his prime and will be turning 29 as a Boras client when he enters Free Agency. Regardless of who ends up with him, Jackson is unlikely to play there in 2016.

He’s fast and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, offering some pop which should improve when he’s another year older and moving out of the spacious stadium Detroit plays in.

Detroit Tigers newsThe Yankees would get a player with two years left on his contract, completing an outfield of: Ellsbury, Jackson and Beltran for the 2015 season. A month ago, New York had no outfielders under contract through 2015 and with this deal, they would only need a right fielder to play when Beltran DH’d.

It would only cost the Yankees an extra million for 2014, in a year they are conscious of payroll (at least somewhat) but they would get a cheap center or left fielder for 2015. With the acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury, New York gained a huge speed threat but with the exit of Curtis Granderson, lost a lot of power. Between Beltran and Jackson, the Yankees would have a better balance in the outfield between power and speed.

For Detroit, it’s clear they’re looking to move money any way they can as evidenced by trading Doug Fister and Prince Fielder. The Tigers would be getting one of the few comparable players to Jackson’s skill-set, sacrificing some power for more speed. Gardner is older but still in his prime and a superior base runner to Jackson.

Having Gardner and Rajai Davis at the top of the lineup would cause nightmares with Miguel Cabrera batting third. It would be maximizing the speed game in a huge ballpark and Gardner could hit 15 triples and steal 45 bases if he stays healthy.

Gardner is due around $4 million this year, so the Tigers would not only save a million dollars, but also gain a draft pick since it could offer Gardner a QO he would be unlikely to accept at the end of the year. Jackson’s power at Yankee Stadium could improve slightly (even though it’s more of a left-handed dream park) and New York would have a player an extra year and then they too, could gain a pick after the 2015 season.

It’s a deal where both sides would benefit if they could convince themselves swapping two players at the same position makes sense.