On December 7th, we wrote that it would be difficult to acquire equal or greater value by trading away Brett Gardner. Brian Cashman repeated that very same sentiment two days later.

The reason why RUN BMG’s name keeps coming up is because he’s the Yankees only real trade chip. He’s valuable and he’s cheap. This organization has done such a terrible job developing players and has given out such awful contracts that Gardner is really its only desirable commodity.

So that brings us to the two pitchers we’ve seen linked to the Yankees over the past couple days: Cincy’s Homer Bailey and Cleveland’s Justin Masterson.

First of all, how ironic would it be if the Yankees acquired Homer Bailey, the pitcher who was constantly compared to Phil Hughes as they both came up through the minors.

Second, like Gardner, the 27-year old Bailey will be a free agent after this upcoming season, and is projected to earn over $9 million in his last go-around in arbitration. That’s more than double what Gardner is supposed to make — which is very relevant since Hal keeps repeating the need to stay under $189 million.

Third, Bailey is projected to be worth less than 3 wins next season, per OLIVER. Gardner is projected to be worth over 3 wins. So for a team looking to ‘WIN NOW’, Bailey isn’t an upgrade — and as mentioned, you’d have to pay Bailey 2X as much.

Fourth, you have the standard ‘Moving from the NL to AL’ risk.

The same disclaimers basically apply for 28-year old Justin Masterson. Masterson is a pitcher we’ve liked for a long time, but like Bailey, he’s not really an upgrade over BMG, and he’ll cost more than 2X in salary.

Masterson is projected to earn $9.7 million in his last arbitration go-around, and then he’s a free agent after the season. Again, these salary levels are very important to mention because of Hal’s insistence staying below the luxury tax level.

Masteron projects better than Bailey, but still not as high as Gardner.

Of the two, we’d probably prefer Masterson over Bailey, especially since it eliminates the NL-to-AL transition, but again, you’re paying more than double for someone who doesn’t even project to be as valuable as Gardner.

Obviously, the Yankees need another starting pitcher, and either of these guys would be a nice addition — however, trading Gardner to get either of them isn’t improving the team. On a one-on-one basis, Gardner is more productive than either of them — and at less than half the salary.

Whether you agree with this analysis or not, the fact that the Yankees must dangle Gardner in order to entertain any trade for an impact player is an indictment of how screwed up this organization is.