New York Yankees decline Brett Gardner’s 2021 option, making him a free agent

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Brett Gardner
Sep 22, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) round the bees after hitting a three-run homerun during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are starting to make decisions about the 2021 season, after the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series and officially ended the 2020 campaign. Yesterday, they decided to keep Zack Britton around for the next two seasons, and now, they opted not to bring back an old friend.

Outfielder Brett Gardner, who was spent his entire MLB career with the New York Yankees, is officially a free agent. The Bombers declined to pick up his $10 million option, and will instead pay him a $2.5 million buyout according to MLB Network Jon Heyman. That way, Gardner is entering the market.

However, that doesn’t mean that the Yankees are parting ways with their long-time outfielder. They could opt to bring him back at a lower price, if the player is in agreement, of course.

Now, with Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton (who will play mostly DH, but could make some appearances in the outfield) and Clint Frazier, there may not be a clear avenue for at least semi-regular playing time for Gardner, who will surely want to keep his options open.

The Yankees reportedly want a cheaper reunion

Heyman also reports that the Yankees have interest in a reunion with the 37-year-old outfielder, but at a cheaper price. For it to happen, any potential deal would have to be at a lower figure than $7.5 million (the $10 million of the option minus the $2.5 million of the buyout.)

Gardner has been with the Yankees since they selected in the 2005 Draft. He is the only member of the 2009 championship team that was left in the squad.

He had a great 2019 season with the New York Yankees, slugging a career-high .503 and hitting 28 home runs. However, the 2020 campaign wasn’t as kind, as he hit .223/.354/.392 with five home runs over 158 plate appearances.