The New York Yankees have been without a captain since Derek JeterÂ , the teamâ€™s 15th captain retired in 2014.
The franchise may not be in a rush but their certainly are some good candidates to be number 16 on the current roster.
Brett Gardner the longest tenured Yankee and maybe the most underappreciated has stepped up in the absence of an official captain and has been the clubhouse leader since Jeter’s departure. A source in the organization told the NY Daily News:
“Gardy is the best leader we’ve ever had here. Jete was great, but he was on a different level.”
Gardner although deserving of the title Captain may never receive the honor. He will be 35 next season and Brian Cashman will have to decide if he wants to pick up the option on Gardy’s contract. His has a $12.5 million dollar option for the ’19 season with a $2 million dollar buyout. Â With prospects like Billy Mckinney and Clint Frazier ready to play in the majors the team may have a hard decision ahead. A veteran leader like Gardner is hard to come by especially on a young team like the Yankees it could make all the difference in the growth of prospects.
“He’s our captain,”- Clint Frazier
Not only is Gardy looked up at by the young players even the team’s veterans acknowledge his leadership.
“He’s our heart and soul,”- CC Sabathia
If the team brings back Gardner he could be a perfect choice to be the next Yankees captain. Winner of the 2017 Heart and Hustle award which is aÂ prestigious accoladeÂ honors the top overall professional baseball player that embodies the values, traditions and spirit of the game voted on by the players, he could be the right guy to lead and teach the next generation of Yankee players the “Yankee Way.”
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The man to replace “The Captain” at short stop Didi Gregorius could also be the man to fill his role as official team leader. The 28 year old was acquired in 2014 from the Diamondbacks to replace the retiring Derek Jeter. Didi had large shoes to fill replacing arguably one of the greatest and fan favorite Yankees of all time, and not only has he performed on the field he has been a club house leader surpassing many expectations of Yankees fans. Manager Aaron Boone has high leadership expectations for Sir Didi.
“I’m seeing an established player, and we’re trying to challenge him to take on even more of a leadership role now, especially with our infield,” said new manager Aaron Boone. “He’s kind of the senior spokesman there. He’s the leader. It’s important for me that he really takes guys under his wing and kind of becomes the voice out there in our infield.” –Maureen Mullen
With the ability to speak four languages including Spanish and playing in between the two Yankee rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar the Yankees will continue to lean upon his leadership ability for years to come and he has accepted the responsibility to lead.
“I always talk to them,” Gregorius said. “I see young guys, everybody is willing to learn. So I think that’s one of those things that I want to pass on what was passed on to me. So you got to prepare the guys for what’s going on in the big leagues, so whenever they get there they don’t have to get comfortable then — they should be already comfortable when they get there.” –Maureen Mullen
Didi has shown he is one of the key clubhouse guys, has leadership material, and should be a Yankee for a longtime. His post game tweets where he assigns different emojis to represent his teammates and offensive ability have made him a fan and clubhouse favorite. Not only has he replaced his legendary predecessor on the field he has stepped up and helped replace his void left in the clubhouse, all this could lead to his eventually naming as the new captain.
Aaron JudgeÂ 2017 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner up could be the Yankees future captain. Â Judge is highly respected not only for his ability with a bat but for his leadership in the club house.
@boblorenz I went a Yankees game recently, and noticed that Aaron Judge waits outside the dugout after every inning on defense to acknowledge his teammates as they return to the dugout. That impressed me as a very significant team leadership gesture.
â€” John Devane (@JohnDevane172SB) April 19, 2018
In the midst of his overnight superstardom it could have been easy for Judge to get lost in the hype as many players in the NY market have done before. Teammates have taken noticed of the 26 year olds mature attitude.
â€œI feel like this guy has been here 10 years-plus. Heâ€™s humble as all heck.â€ –Todd Frazier
It could be argued that Judge is already the face of the franchise in only his second season. Judge not only is making huge plays at the plate but also in the field, he never lacks hustle and leads by example. Not only has he been a leader and great teammate to the other young guys but even the 37 year old CC Sabathia has acknowledged the emotional leadership ability and effect Judge has had on the team.
â€œJudge is such a great teammate,â€™â€™ Sabathia told The Post. â€œHe always gets the dugout going. He gets me going. His energy rubs off on everybody. Heâ€™ll come to me and say, â€˜Letâ€™s go, C!â€™ And I start yelling. For him to do that and be comfortable enough to be that kind of emotional leader for us as a rookie, thatâ€™s great.â€™â€™
Judge already one of baseball’s best players plus his “no-ego” attitude, maturity, and leadership ability that he has already shown in only his second season could be the recipe of a captain in the making.