The New York Yankees have a difficult decision to make with outfielder Brett Gardner, a veteran who has plenty of experience in pinstripes and has been as reliable as they come.
Is Gardner worth retaining?
Gardner has spent the last 13 seasons with the Bombers, posting a career average .259 with an 18.6% strikeout rate and a 10.4% walk rate. He has been perfect for the Yankeesâ€™ needs, supplementing injuries and performing at an average level at all times.
This past year, Gardner stumbled out of the gate and considering he was earning $12.5 million this past season, itâ€™s just that his value might not match up with his price tag any longer. Given the loss of revenue due to COVID-19, the Yankees will have to make a few difficult decisions this off-season, and one of them might be to let Gardner walk in free agency.
Letâ€™s get something straight, though, Gardner only wants to play for the Yankees, and I believe he will retire if they elect to let him walk. With that being the case, Gardner wants to play another season in front of fans, giving his family one final chance to see him in person. With that being said, I believe they will offer him a reduced deal for one year that he simply accepts as a rotational piece.
At 37 years old, the Yankees have already declined his $10 million option for 2021, so if he sticks around, he might earn half of that. After posting incredible numbers in 2019 due to juiced baseballs, his numbers plummeted in 2020, finishing with a .223 average and striking out 22.2% of the time.
Interestingly, he did record a 16.5% walk rate, which is incredible based on his career average. He only hit five homers compared to his 28 in 2019. If you compare the numbers and average them out based on a full yearâ€™s reps, Gardner would have hit 13 fewer long balls in 2020.
The New York Yankees are looking beyond Gardner:
The primary difference maker here is Clint Frazier, who exploded onto the scene this past season. Not only was he a Gold Glove finalist in the outfield after being benched for defensive issues in 2019, but his offense is right on par with what the Yankees expected.
He hit .267 with eightÂ homers and 24 RBIs. He walked a ton at 15.6% but did strike out 27.5% of the time. If Frazier wants to become a dominant hitter, he has to be more patient at the plate. He swings on the first pitch far too often, putting him in a hole right off the bat.
Telling the future of Gardner should be simple, he will likely stay with the Yankees on a minimal deal just to retire in front of his family. They have to send them out the right way, that is simply the Yankee way.