Can New York Yankees’ Brett Gardner replicate a stellar 2019 performance in 2020?

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Brett Gardner
Oct 4, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins in game one of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Will Brett Gardner have another stellar season for the New York Yankees in 2020?

One of the bright spots for the New York Yankees in 2019 was veteran Brett Gardner, who posted some of his best offensive statistics over 12 years in the MLB.

Having recorded 20 home runs or more just once prior to the 2019 campaign, Gardner hit 28 long balls last season. At 35 years old, he logged the most in his entire career, likely due to juiced baseballs.

Gardner signed a one-year deal worth $12.5 million that includes a $20 million option for the 2021 season. While that is a boatload of money for a veteran outfielder who likely won’t start, it is always good to have a reliable player who can fill in at every outfield spot.

Before the coronavirus pandemic taking hold of society, Gardner stated that he wanted to play beyond 2020. Since the season will likely be shortened and Gardner won’t take on the physical toll of an entire 162 game campaign, playing next season should be an easy decision for him. While retirement loomed in 2019, hitting 28 homers and a career-high 74 RBIs only attests to the value he still holds.

“At this point, I’m just kind of taking things one year at a time,’’ Gardner said in spring training. “I’ve really always looked not too far into the future, obviously. The contract [one year; $10 million] that I signed, the Yankees have a team option [$10 million; $2.5 million buyout] on me for next year. In a perfect world for me, I stay healthy and have a good season, and they pick that option up and I come back and do it all over again.’’

While he will be 37 years old next year, Gardner could easily transition into a coaching option for the New York Yankees down the road. Nonetheless, he’s essential for the youngsters on the team and their development, not to mention the institution of the Yankee way. Clean-shaven, disciplines, and success-driven, Gardner contains all of those attributes. He helps in plenty of ways, tangible and intangible. Retaining him was a good decision for the Yankees, and while $20 million at his age is astronomical, he’s a legend in Pinstripes and deserves the respect he’s earned.