Gardner and the Yankees 'listening' tour

Brett Gardner is one of the Yankees' main trade assets this offseason. Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In an ideal world, the Yankees would like to solve the rest of their offseason issues with trades rather than money. That would likely be more cost efficient because agents know they need a second baseman, protection at third, a starting pitcher and a reliever or two.

Sources with knowledge of the team's thinking stressed to ESPN New York that they are just "listening" on Brett Gardner. It would take the right deal to unload him.

In an effort to exact some leverage in these Gardner talks, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he may not do anything in the short term. Cashman does not want to appear desperate.

He said he could wait to fill some of the holes during spring training or later. The Yankees have some interest in Mark Reynolds and have already picked up Kelly Johnson, but both bring more with the bat than the glove.

Eventually, I think Cashman will trade Gardner because he has no other real chips that make sense to deal. One scout said that Gardner because of his outstanding defense and speed should be able to procure a major-league ready starter.

The Yankees' first choice for Robinson Cano's replacement is free-agent Omar Infante, but to their understanding he is still seeking a four-year deal, according to sources.

If Infante were to play fine defense and have a .795 OPS, like he did in 2013, they might be cool with that outlay. However, in 2012 he was a .668 OPS player in his 64 games with the Tigers. So the Yankees have been willing to search for second base alternatives.

The problem on the trade market is that teams with good second baseman tend to keep them because they don't want the hole in that spot either. So if the Yankees were to trade Gardner, it seems it would be for a starting pitcher.

USA Today reported the Yankees would like to grab the Cleveland Indians' Justin Masterson in a three-team trade. But Buster Olney tweeted that such a deal had "no legs."

On Tuesday, Cashman mentioned that teams have called about Ivan Nova. Still, how can the Yankees deal Nova when they only have two other known starters (CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda) for next season.

Cashman mentioned that clubs have asked about catching prospects J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez. Murphy's talented and is coming off a solid year, while Sanchez is considered a better prospect, but is coming off a poor 2013 season.

So the Yankees search for the right deal for Gardner, while maintaining they are keen on teaming him up with Jacoby Ellsbury in 2014.

Gardner, a free agent after this season, turns 31 in 2014 and the Yankees are acting as if they may team him with Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in the outfield. But, ultimately, I think he will be dealt because it is either that or the Yankees will likely have to fix the rest of their issues in free agency.