New York Yankees: Fan favorite Brett Gardner is back for a 14th year with the Yankees

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner
May 29, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) rounds the bases after hitting a game tying two run home run against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, Gardner and the New York Yankees came to terms on a new contract for 2021. Mark Feinsand reported that the veteran outfielder will return on a one-year deal guaranteeing him $4 million. There are also a player and team options for 2022 that could earn Gardner $11 million according to Jon Heyman.

The Yankees have waited until almost the last moment to sign the long-time Yankee back with the team with spring training already starting. Yankee fans couldn’t imagine the Yankees without their heart and soul in the clubhouse. But this offseason was all about the re-signing of batting champ DJ LeMahieu. That after a very long wait was accomplished just two weeks ago. The Yankees then signed two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and traded for starter Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, Gardner waited on the sidelines while the Yankees tended to business.

With those moves accomplished the New York Yankees turned to the need for outfield depth and finally decided that Brett Gardner was the best option compared to other outfielders in free agency. Gardner is the last holdover from the 2009 World Series-winning team. If Gardner was not re-signed it would have been a huge downer for the fans and his teammates. “Gardy” was a motivator and leader in the clubhouse, especially for the “Baby Bombers.”

Brett has spent most of his career in the left outfield and as a leadoff
batter due to his speed and ability to steal bases. When Curtis Granderson
suffered an injury in 2013, Brett moved to the center-field where he continued to excel. Although Brett will never be under consideration for the Hall of Fame, he has certainly excelled with the Yankees winning the Fielding Bible Award in 2010, 2011, and 2017. He was an All-Star in 2015, was AL Stolen base leader in 2011, AL triples leader in 2013, Gold Glove winner in 2016, and earned a World Series Champ ring in 2009.

Brett’s stats have been declining a bit in the last few years as he ages but is still the heart and soul of the New York Yankees. You know when Brett steps to the plate that he is going to run up pitches for whoever is pitching. He is the most disciplined Yankee at the plate, making contact on 93% of his swings. No player has played harder than Brett, and that continues to this day.

In 2019 he was instrumental in holding the New York Yankees injury-riddled and ragtag team together just by his presence and work ethic, teaching many minor leaguers playing for the first time in the stadium, what it means to be a Yankee, and inspiring them to play to their
best abilities. His efforts and that of all of the Yankees won them 103 games and a trip to the postseason. He was one of only two players that did not go on the IL. He also had one of his best seasons with the Yankees hitting a career-high 28 home runs.

The shortened 2020 season was a down season for the veteran like it was for many players. It put his return into question. But now that question has been answered and the Yankees will still stay under their self-imposed budget of staying below the luxury tax threshold. This will likely be the last move the Yankees will make for players before reporting for spring training in Tampa, Florida. Gardner this season will likely play off the bench as batting champ DJ LeMahieu is cemented into the lead-off place in the lineup. He will probably only be used in case of injury or giving Clint Frazier or Aaron Hicks a day off.