The New York Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this off-season, including who will play shortstop and whether or not skipper Aaron Boone will return to the team for the foreseeable future.
While a lot of these decisions are in their hands, one decision that is left up to the player is outfielder Brett Gardner. The veteran signed a two-year, $5.15 million deal this past off-season at 37-years-old, and with the team being knocked out of the postseason early, his decision to return could be even more likely.
The contract has a player option for the 2022 campaign, which would pay him $2.3 million in salary.
“I hope that I’m back next season, but that’s really not on my radar right now,’’ Gardner said after the Wild Card loss to the Red Sox.
“I’m just kind of trying to process all that went on.”
Last season, Gardner hit a career-low .222 with 10 homers and 39 RBIs. His strikeout rate hovered around his 2020 numbers, but his impact has become more defensive than as a quality lefty bat in the lineup.
It is clear that age is making an impact on Gardy’s production and efficiency, but the decision to bring him back is not the Yankees’ favor. Alternatively, they could’ve allocated that money differently, but $2.3 million isn’t anything to get heated over.
It is always good to have a veteran presence and a lefty in case of emergency, but the Yankees can’t continue on starting him and feeling confident about it. The expectation was that Clint Frazier would be the primary starter in 2021, but due to migraines and injury, the Bombers had no choice but to utilize Brett. The loss of Aaron Hicks early on in the year also took a toll.
Luckily, both should be healthy for the 2022 campaign, hopefully mitigating Gardner’s impact.