Are the Yankees officially done with Brett Gardner in the outfield?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have several tough decisions to make during the 2019-20 off-season. One of those decisions will be to either retain or cut outfielder, Brett Gardner. An argument can be made that Gardner should be the Yankees starting centerfielder in 2020, especially with Aaron Hicks recovering from Tommy John surgery and expected to be out until August. At 36 years old, Gardner had one of his best seasons at the plate, earning 28 home runs and a .829 OPS over 98 games.

The Yankees veteran serves more of a purpose than just his offensive and defensive capabilities. He’s one of the leaders on the team and is essential to the clubhouse morale and atmosphere. After smashing his bat against the roof of the dugout last season, it became a sign of success for the Yankees, who often mimicked his tendency after recording hits and home runs.

The Yankees shouldn’t think twice about re-signing Gardner, primarily because of Hicks’s absence. Gardner is already familiar with the team and their style of play, and his familiarity with the crowd only benefits the Yankees. Re-signing him on a one year deal could be precisely what the team needs to supplement the loss in the outfield.

Brett Gardner surprised everybody in 2019:

The veteran outfielder struggled immensely during 2018, hitting .236. As per FanGraphs, Gardner’s line drive rate dropped to 17.9% compared to 22.3% in 2017. He also hit only 12 home runs before recording 28 this past year. After an abysmal 2018 season, he came back to hit .251 in 2019 and contributed stellar defense, which helped the success of the team. His .996 fielding percentage or five defensive runs saved in the outfield makes him a prime candidate to return.

While Gardner probably won’t be the starting option the entire season, he is a stellar reserve player and knows the Yankees way. He is emotional and an absolute leader in all facets of the game. He also has tremendous experience in the postseason and can help younger players succeed down the stretch. However, the Yankees could stick with Mike Tauchman, who is stable on defense and hit .315 in the second half of the season before straining his calf in August.

Tauchman is also under team controlled salary for two more seasons and will be much cheaper than re-signing Gardner. Both are reliable options and should be considered by the Yankees moving forward.