The New York Yankees have failed to exercise Brett Gardner’s 2021 option for $10 million, which lead them to pay him $2.5 million to be a Yankee no longer. This drama will likely go on for a while. Simultaneously, both the Yankees and Brett Gardner will try to figure out what they are doing. There are many teams that would be willing to pick up Gardner, even at his age. The fact is that he is still better than an average player. You can’t just look at batting average to tell of his worth.
Gardner has always said he wants to retire as a Yankee. He has also said he is not ready to retire. The question will be how much value they place in Gardner as a clubhouse leader and mentor to many of the younger players. They will also look at his value as a backup centerfielder, for Aaron Hicks who doesn’t have the best injury history. Some have suggested that the Yankees are better to dump Gardner and go after a player like Brantley who would cost more than the $10 million Gardner option. I don’t think the Yankees will be spending that much for a backup player, with all the other decisions yet to be made for the pitching department.
My guess is that the New York Yankees will eventually take Gardner back for another year but at a figure below his option price. Everything depends on how much interest other clubs have in acquiring him. Last year if you recall, the Yankees waited until almost the last moment to put a deal together for Gardner.
In polls I have taken in Facebook Yankees groups, it shows that Brett, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu are the most popular Yankee players, some show Gardner as the most popular. But General Manager Brian Cashman doesn’t play the popularity game. He looks at the analytics, and he doesn’t go by just batting average. Gardner, in his career, is worth a 42.8 WAR, and that’s impressive. Add to that he is a far above average centerfielder and an adequate left fielder. And don’t forget the walks; Gardner was second in walks during the regular season and tied for first in walks for the postseason.
His detractors will say, yes, but he didn’t have a very good season. That’s the same thing they said in 2018. In 2019 he hit a career-high 28 home runs. That was whittled down to just 13 this year if it was a full season. His OBP of .354 is better than half the team. With his stats, getting on base, and his fielding percentage for an outfielder, the Yankees would be hard-pressed to find a player that good for a discounted Brett Gardner.
Brett spends the offseason away from New York near his Dadâ€™s 2,600-acre farm. Brett recently talked about spending the shutdown time helping out his Dad. Brett and his wife live in Summerville, South Carolina. Brett and his wife Jessica have two boys, Abraham, born in 2008, and Peter, born in 2010. At age 36, his playing years may be coming to an end, but he will always be remembered as a guy who put everything he had into every game and is the New York Yankees’ heart and soul.
Time will tell what the future is for Brett Gardner, but the Yankee faithful will hope to see him in pinstripes again next season.