03/25/09 6:54 PM ET
Yanks remain open to trading Melky
Gardner's success in center gives club options with 2008 center fielder
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
New York's center field competition has continued during Spring Training between Cabrera, 24, and challenger Brett Gardner, 25. The Yankees heavily shopped Cabrera during the offseason but were not able to strike a deal.
"We've got a nice competition going," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday. "In fairness to both, they'll both get told who the winner here is at some point. We'll have those discussions shortly. Anything is possible now, but we haven't met about it yet."
Earlier this week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi anointed Xavier Nady as his right fielder if the season were beginning, relegating Nick Swisher to more of a reserve role in the outfield and at first base.
Neither Cashman nor Girardi have made commitments to either Cabrera or Gardner, with Girardi stating that he is of the opinion the Yankees could carry both players and keep them productive. Girardi has said that he hopes to have his Opening Day lineup decided by March 29.
"I feel pretty good with the opportunities that Joe is giving to me right now," Cabrera said recently. "He's the one that's going to make the last call. I don't worry about other people. I just worry about the things that I can do."
Defense will be one important factor when the Cabrera-Gardner debate is broken down. Girardi said recently that Cabrera holds a distinct advantage with a strong throwing arm, but Gardner charges the ball and gets rid of it quickly, helping him make up some ground.
Both players get good jumps on balls and offer flexibility, as Cabrera can play all three outfield positions, and Gardner will see time in left field this spring.
The Web site reported that the Yankees have been telling other teams they would be open to moving Cabrera and suggested that he would be a perfect fit for the White Sox, who currently have Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise competing for the center-field job.
Cabrera is four years away from free agency and coming off a season in which he batted .249 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 129 games. He was rumored to be headed to the Brewers in December, a trade which would have netted the Yankees veteran center fielder Mike Cameron.
Cashman told the New York Post on Tuesday that the Cameron discussions had not been rekindled, saying, "Our center fielder is here in camp."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.