Bringing back Brett Gardner should be an easy decision for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman. Gardner is not only a leader in the locker room, but he’s one of the most experienced players on the field at any moment, and given his familiarity with the Yankee way, retaining him should be essential.
Cashman signed Gardner at a discounted rate in 2019, inking him on a one-year, $7.5 million deal. Coming to a similar agreement for the 2020 season should be simple, but with the Yankees looking to add a premium starting pitching, unloading $7.5 million in cap space with Clint Frazier on the roster makes the veteran expendable.
However, Gardner had a career-best season at the plate, hitting 28 homers, 74 RBIs, a .253 ISO, and a 38.2% fly ball percentage. These statistics play into his increased long-ball totals, which surprised everyone as his frame doesn’t exactly scream power.
The Yankees need to make a logical decision with Brett Gardner:
The versatile outfielder logged a 3.6 fWAR for the season, making him one of the best defensive outfielders in the American League. Expecting him to replicate his power-hitting in 2020 might not be realistic, but clearly and increase in launch angle (13.6 degrees), has made him more useful for a home-run centric Yankees ideology.
The compliment his solid 2019 campaign, Gardner can be a serviceable starter for the Bombers at any position. With Aaron Hicks preparing to miss a significant portion of the 2020 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Gardner would slot right into center field as if Hicks didn’t even exist.
Now, other teams have expressed an interest in Gardner, and while he has only played for the Yankees during his career, he could cash in on a decent pay-day if he holds out. His price-tag would be the only deterrent for the Yankees, but if they can manage to keep him on a deal in the $5-7.5 million range, the decision should be an easy one.