New York Yankees: Yankees get creative with Brett Gardner (video)

The New York Yankees committed to keeping outfielder Brett Gardner with the team for a least another year. Gardner is the team’s heart, and soul as his teammates look to him as their captain, although that is not official.  He mentors young players and teaches them how to be Yankees. He has manned center and left field for over 1,600 games. Now for only the second time in his entire career, yesterday at Lakeland, Florida, he played in right field.

The Yankees are trying to turn Gardner into the super outfielder to give him more playing time, especially when playing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Fenway is known for its green monster and its expansive right field, where the Yankees hope to take advantage of Gardner’s speed. He may be 37 now but he is quicker than most others on the team.

Just before the start of spring training, the New York Yankees, after they refused his $10 million option for 2021, signed him to a two-year, $5.15 million contract. He will earn $1.85 million in 2021 with a $1 million signing bonus. He has a $2.3 million player option for 2022. Gardner has always made it known that he wanted to retire a Yankee. But after the shortened 2020 season, he felt that he was not ready to retire yet.

The New York Yankees have made that desire come true, at least for now. Now the Yankees are looking for more ways to use Gardner, now that left-field basically belongs to Clint Frazier. In the game yesterday, Gardner was tested in the Yankees 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. He made an impressively long-run catch in the right field. Although maybe not as effective behind the plate, he is still one of the fastest and best defenders on the team, and the Yankees want to take advantage of that.

If effective in the right field, which there is no reason not to believe he will not be, the Yankees will have a more than an adequate backup for all outfield positions. Manager Aaron Boone had this to say about Gardner:

“With Clint establishing himself a little last year, we’re looking to transfer [Gardner] to this awesome fourth outfield role,’’ Boone said. “I could see him in all three [outfield] positions, depending on where our most pressing defensive need is.”

Boone also said “whether we’re healthy or not, Gardner is gonna play a lot.”