Why the Yankees had no choice but to re-sign Brett Gardner

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

While the signing of Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking contract has undoubtedly put the Yankees in an advantageous position in 2020, they have suffered losses that extend beyond playing in the field or pitching on the mound.

The New York Yankees lost two leaders, but they kept one essential one:

The Bombers lost two significant forces in the clubhouse this offseason, as CC Sabathia retired, and Didi Gregorius was allowed to walk in free agency. These two players meant more to the team than just quality innings or home runs. They offered consistency and identity for a young team in need of leaders.

Losing both will put the Yanks in a position of youthfulness, which can lead to immaturity and a lack of accountability at times. However, the departure of Sabathia and Gregorius played a part in the retention of Brett Gardner, a player who will be going into his 13th season and is coming off one of his best offensive performances to date.

Last season, Gardner posted an astonishing 28 mark in the home run category, logging 74 RBIs in the process — two career-highs. Gardner’s influence comes in a multitude of ways, notably his leadership abilities and veteran presence among the youngsters. Keeping him around was a necessity for GM Brian Cashman, who unloaded $12 million on a one-year deal with an option for a second season.

MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch responded to a question noting the loss of the two players mentioned above:

Q: Is the leadership lost from CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius underrated?

Their presence surely will be missed, particularly Sabathia, who has been a clubhouse constant since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. Sabathia seemed to be the rare pitcher who could also command respect from the position players, but the game continues on, as it did following Derek Jeter’s retirement. Brett Gardner’s return provides continuity, and Aaron Judge has taken on more leadership responsibilities each year.

With reports of juiced baseballs making waves, it’s expected that the MLB will fix the problem that saw an increase in long balls during the 2019 season. An inconsistency in the seams of the baseball was the culprit, which could result in Gardner’s offensive output crashing back down to earth. Nonetheless, his influence comes in more than one way.