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Yankees Rumors: New York targeting Justin Masterson for Brett Gardner

Jason Miller

The Yankees are still looking for pitching during the Winter Meetings and Brian Cashman is exploring potential trades that could help New York land what they need. Brett Gardner has long been their best trade piece, and even though Yankee brass has said they aren't shopping their center fielder, Cashman is willing to give him up in return for Justin Masterson of the Indians.

Cleveland's number one pitcher is well known for his great ground ball rates (56.4%), however, his peripherals (7.45 K/9, 3.57 BB/9) are not what you want to see from your ace. Acquiring him would go a long way toward Cashman's goal of adding 400 innings to the rotation, as Masterson has thrown at least 180 innings in the last four seasons and reached the 200 plateau twice. He pitched to a 3.45 ERA and 3.35 FIP in 2013, along with a career high 9.09 K/9.

He could work well in Yankee Stadium, having a minuscule 26.2% fly ball rate and 0.69 HR/9, but he has also struggles against left-handed hitters (4.49 FIP). His 11.4% HR/FB rate against them would probably lead him into trouble when he pitched in New York. Masterson is at the top of the rotation in Cleveland, but with the Yankees he'd probably be the No. 3 or 4 pitcher.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be as easy as Gardner for Masterson, even though both at free agents in 2015, since the Indians don't need an outfielder, so the Yankees are looking to create a three-team trade that would net them the 28-year-old pitcher. It's hard to tell who would be interested in such a situation; the Reds could use a center fielder, but without knowing what the Indians need, there's no way to tell who could possibly be involved.

According to Buster Olney, trade talks between the two teams has no legs and that the Indians are currently not close to trading Masterson or anyone else. According to one baseball executive, they "will listen, but they're also trying to win, so I don't think he is that available." It seems that this idea is mostly just wishful thinking on the Yankees' part, but things could turn real very quickly.