In recent days we have heard a number of Brett Gardner-related rumors; it almost seems like that at this point, Brian Cashman and the front office are actively shopping him to feel needs elsewhere. This could be a trade with the Indians for one of their young starts like Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar, but early reports seem to indicate that the Indians are unlikely to budge with their cost-controlled pitching unless they absolutely must.
Mark Feinsand reported this morning that according to a source, the Yankees are actively discussing a trade that would send Brett Gardner to the Cubs in exchange for Starlin Castro. While this might not be as exciting as acquiring someone like Carlos Carrasco, it's still an intriguing possibility at face value. Starlin Castro is a career .281/.321/.404 (96 wRC+) hitter since he was called up in 2010, and he'll only be 26 by Opening Day of next year. Even though he isn't the best option at second base, I wouldn't fault Cashman for trying to fill a black hole with something of value, even if it isn't a perfect option. Castro's contract is also pretty reasonable as he's owed $38 million over the next four years, and he also has a team option of $16 million for 2020; this would imply a relatively even swap salary-wise for both teams. Gardner doesn't have an obvious fit on the Cubs, but this would allow them to forgo signing Dexter Fowler, which could save them a few dollars down the road.
Moving Brett Gardner, as has been discussed at length, would open up some options in the outfield as well. The Yankees could be a bit frugal and stick with Aaron Hicks in left field, or they would have the option of going after one of the more prominent free agent outfielders, such as Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, or Yoenis Cespedes. Either way, slotting in Hicks wouldn't be the absolute worst option, and now the Yankees would have a second baseman that isn't as unreliable as Rob Refsnyder or Dustin Ackley.
This could just be Cashman exploring his options, but it is certainly something to consider. It's obvious that the front office is very unhappy with second base remaining an issue for the third straight year, and Castro at least gives them a semi-solution. If he can somehow regain his 2014 form, this would be an absolute slam dunk. If he doesn't, well then at least they tried. It's better than re-signing Stephen Drew.