The New York Yankees have been revived. DJ LeMahieu is back. Corey Kluber is coming to town. And we know there are a multitude of other moves on the way because two spots on the 40-man roster need to be cleared.
And then there’s Brett Gardner, who we suspect will be back in 2021, but it looks like there are multiple concerns regarding that. First off, there needs to be roster space. Secondly, the Yankees likely have to clear some salary in order to re-sign him and remain under the luxury tax threshold.
Sounds easy enough, right? While Clint Frazier might be the first player who comes to mind when we’re thinking of killing those two birds with one stone, the slugger actually doesn’t make enough money for such a trade to move the needle payroll-wise. So it seems the Bombers may have to figure out a way to trade Adam Ottavino, according to the latest buzz.
Here’s what ESPN’s Buster Olney had to say about it:
"“Now that the Yankees have spent on LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, they would like to add pitching depth — maybe a third-tier starter, maybe a reliever — and they would like to bring back Brett Gardner for his 14th season with the team. But if the Yankees are to remain under the $210 million threshold of the competitive balance tax, they don’t have much room. One way they might create some space is exploring a trade of reliever Adam Ottavino, who struggled in the shortened 60-game season. Ottavino, 35, had a 5.89 ERA in 24 appearances in ’20 and is set to make $9 million; presumably, with so many right-handed free agents available, the Yankees would have to eat a chunk of Ottavino’s salary to make a deal.”"
We don’t know how in-depth Olney’s thinking is here, but if the Yankees are trying to add a third-tier starter, they’ll probably have to do that in a trade, too. We’ve recently talked about the Luis Castillo rumors, which more than likely would include Frazier plus other pieces. The Reds would have no reason to trade for Ottavino, though, so this wouldn’t solve everything.
Many suspected Ottavino could be a casualty if the Yankees were going to continue adding to the payroll, but now it seems he could be one if they want to bring back one of their team leaders in Gardner.
Even eating around $3 million of Otto’s $9 million salary would go a long way, because Gardy already got his $2.5 million buyout, which the Yankees will likely use in their negotiations. Giving him a $4 million contract would mean he’ll make $6.5 million as a fourth outfielder.
So if Gardy comes back, expect two trades, because Brian Cashman will have to clear some money as well as space in the outfield.