Retaining Brett Gardner should be a simple decision for New York Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman, considering the value he brings to the team and reserve/starting capabilities. With Aaron Hicks set to miss the beginning of the 2020 regular season, the Yankees will need a replacement, and Gardner makes the most sense on a one-year deal.
Last offseason, Cashman elected to bring back the veteran outfielder on a one-year, $7.5 million contract, but his price-tag will undoubtedly fall if he’s retained. I anticipate the Yanks trying to bring him back on a solo, $4.5 million deal, bringing down his cost, and giving the team more room to go after a top pitcher.
However, they could decide to let Gardner walk this offseason entirely, and the only reason they would do so comes down to another player, Mike Tauchman.
When Tauchman was brought in by the Yankees from the Colorado Rockies before the 2019 season began, nobody believed he would make an impact, let alone crack the starting team. The 28-year-old rose to the occasion, playing in 52 games with a 76 wRC+ through the first 20 games of the campaign.
The New York Yankees struck gold with Mike Tauchman:
The value the Bombers saw in Tauchman was finally coming to fruition, as his strikeout rate dropped from 30.2% to 19.2%,Â a massive differential that helped him hit .277 with 13 homers on the year. The lefty bat offered a change in the batting order, as the Yankees are predominantly a right-handed team.
With Didi Gregorius likely on his way out this offseason, slotting Tauchman in as a top reserve option in the outfield is a necessity, especially if they don’t bring Gardner back. However, I believe Cashman will favor the proven veteran who logged 28 homers last season, a career-high.
When Gardner is finally done in the Bronx, the Yankees could continue with Tauchman, similarly utilizing him. He has plenty of potential to justify this theory, but he will need to improve his hitting and provide consistency to earn a consistent role with the men in Pinstripes.