Levine: Yanks have 'no intention' of trading Gardner
Team president believes speedster can form dynamic duo with Ellsbury
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made it clear at the Winter Meetings that he wasn't shopping around Brett Gardner, and team president Randy Levine took it a step further Sunday morning by saying New York has "absolutely no intention" of trading the speedy outfielder.
"We think he's going to be on the roster," Levine said on ESPN Radio's The Ian O'Connor Show. "One of the reasons the baseball people signed Jacoby Ellsbury is the two of them together present a tremendous dynamic one-two or nine-one, whatever Joe Girardi decides to write in at the top of the lineup.
"One will play left, one will play center, and it's a tremendous defensive situation. So no, there's absolutely no intention to move Brett Gardner. We get inquiries about every single one of our players all the time, [Cashman] listens, but there's no attempt here to trade or move Brett Gardner."
Gardner has been the subject of several trade rumors since the Yankees signed Ellsbury. At the Winter Meetings last week, Cashman said the Yankees "have an obligation to hear what anybody's interest happens to be, but we're not shopping Gardy." In other words, they're not shopping him, but they'll listen to any calls that come their way.
The speculation makes sense, to a certain extent. The 30-year-old Gardner, expected to make between $4 million and $5 million in arbitration before becoming a free agent next offseason, is an affordable option for clubs looking for outfield help, and the Yankees need to find solutions at second and third base while improving their starting rotation and bullpen.
"We have a couple of big question marks," Levine said on ESPN Radio when asked directly about his starting rotation. "I think we'll be fine, but judge us by the time we get to the bell in April."
In the same interview, Levine said the Yankees are planning on having Alex Rodriguez in their lineup on Opening Day. The third baseman was served with a 211-game suspension for his involvement with the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic, and his fate should be decided by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz next month.
"From our planning purposes, we have Alex Rodriguez in our budget as is if he will be playing," Levine said. "And that's the way it will be until there's a change of circumstance. As we sit here today there is no change of circumstance as of yet.
"We're planning to have Alex Rodriguez play third base from a financial point of view, but we always have contingencies. Our presumption is that he's going to be here for the Yankees playing third base until we hear anything else. His money is in the budget."