New York Notes: Justin Wilson, Brett Gardner (www.mlbtraderumors.com)

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All things being equal, Justin Wilson seems to prefer a return to the Mets, but the Metropolitans have only just begun conversations with the veteran southpaw, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). It’s not difficult to imagine a deal coming together quickly, however. Wilson does appear close to signing somewhere, notes MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). Coming of a strong 3.66 ERA/3.04 FIP over 19 2/3 innings in 2020, he certainly presents as a useful arm.

In fact, the Yankees are among those clubs said to negotiating with Wilson, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The Yankees are close to the first luxury tax threshold, and the assumption has been that they intend to stay under it. That doesn’t give them a lot of room for Wilson, who is one of the more attractive arms in a southpaw market that includes a fair amount of depth with T.J. McFarland, Oliver Perez, Tony Watson and Sam Freeman among the remaining lefties. The Yankees still probably have about $7MM or so to spend before surpassing mark, however, so another acquisition is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Much because of those financial realities, whether or not they reunite with Brett Gardner, for the first time this winter, seems like a coin flip. The Yankees really don’t need him given where their roster stands today – especially with Jay Bruce brought in on a low-risk minors pact. That said, he’s a fan favorite, their longest-tenured player, and he is said to want to return. That should make this easy, but as Rosenthal notes, Gardner’s production last season could theoretically line him up for quite a bit more than $7MM over one season. Gardner’s 110 wRC+ in 2020 and 114 wRC+ over the last two seasons marks him as a potentially superior option to just about every other outfielder remaining on the market.

That said, he will be 37-year-old this season, and he’s long been viewed as a Yankee loyalist, which could have tempered his market. At this point, the question probably boils down to exactly how much Gardner wants to remain in New York. Otherwise, he’s pretty well out of leverage.



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