NEW YORK -- Following their recent additions of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, the New York Yankees plan to engage in trade talks involving starting outfielder Brett Gardner, sources told ESPN New York.
Although they value the speedy Gardner and still could keep him, the Yankees believe he could be used as a main trade piece to address one of their needs, which include second base, third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen.
If the Yankees keep Gardner, he would play left field with Ellsbury in center field. Beltran will play right field while rotating with Alfonso Soriano as a designated hitter.
When the Yankees agreed with Ellsbury, an official with knowledge of the team's plan said, "Absolutely not," when asked if Gardner would be dealt, saying that New York wanted to team the similar players together.
But with Beltran on board, the Yankees are more open to the possibility of trading Gardner.
The Newark Star-Ledger earlier reported that the Yankees were more open to listening to offers on Gardner.
The Yankees have had a good amount of interest in Gardner this winter, a source confirmed, and are more open to dealing him now because of their outfield depth and their hesitancy to sign any of the high-end free agent starting pitchers. The Yankees don't plan on pursuing anyone among a group that includes Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Yankees would be interested in Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka for their rotation but are pessimistic he will be posted, according to one source, because of the new system that MLB and the Japanese League have agreed to that limits the fee for the players' team to $20 million.
"It is not worth it for them," one official said of the Tohuku Rakuten Tigers, Tanaka's team.
The Yankees also have continued talks with the agent for infielder Omar Infante, who could fill New York's holes at second or third base.
Gardner, 30, batted .273 with a .759 OPS in 2013. After 2014, he can become a free agent and could seek a lucrative deal similar to Michael Bourn's four-year, $48 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.