New York Yankees: One cheaper replacement for Brett Gardner in the outfield

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar
DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 16: Kevin Pillar #11 of the Colorado Rockies bats during the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Coors Field on September 16, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees have a big decision to make with outfielder Brett Gardner this off-season. After spending 13 years in pinstripes, Gardner insists that he wants to continue playing for at least one more season with fans in the stands.

He simply doesn’t want to go out without his children seeing their father play in person for the last time. The sentimentality of that makes complete sense, but his price tag unfortunately doesn’t.

Gardner finished the 2020 campaign with a .223 average, including five homers and 15 RBIs. The second half of the year was more consistent for the veteran, but overall, he is slowly degrading and finding himself in a position of insufficient value. In 2019, Gardner exploded onto the scene once again, finishing with 28 homers and 74 RBIs, both of which were career highs.

A smaller sample size in 2020 proved to be tumultuous, and he was earning $12.5 million, and extravagant number considering his value. The intangibles that he brings to the team, in terms of leadership and mentorship, are also something to be factored in.

The club has a one-year, $10 million option on his contract, and otherwise will have to buy him out at $2.5 million. So considering that fact, the Yankees would realistically be paying him about $7.5M for this upcoming season.

With managing partner Hal Steinbrenner indicating significant losses this past season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yankees might try to cut costs at every corner.

Gardner is one of those players that is making more than he’s worth at this point, and they could look to an option like Kevin Pillar to replace him in 2021.

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What would Kevin Pillar bring to the New York Yankees?

Pillar signed a $4.25 million deal with the Boston Red Sox this past off-season, and he represented fantastic value for them in the outfield. He finished with a .288 average, including six home runs and 26 RBIs over 54 games, sharing time with the Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.

Defensively, he earned a .978 fielding percentage with one error, proving his consistency in that category as well. Having played in the MLB for eight seasons, he has plenty of experience, especially in the AL division.

Pillar would be a perfect replacement for Gardner on a much cheaper deal, and they could even extend him for 2-3 seasons if they felt the need. In fact, for what they are preparing to pay Gardner for one season, Kevin could be an option for two.