Yankees’ Brett Gardner fires back at the idea of Clint Frazier stealing his starting position

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Brett Gardner
Oct 7, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a single against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning during game three of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees added several outfielders to the mix this off-season, but the expectation is that they will roll with Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner, two familiar faces. Adding Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich to compete during spring training indicated that the Yankees might have moved on from Gardner, but they recently signed him to a two-year deal with a club option for 2022.

Gardner has been an Iron Man for the Yankees over the course of his career, providing consistency and a healthy defender. Despite struggling in 2020 offensively, hosting a .223 average, he is an elite defender who can supplement injuries and offer value on an everyday basis. However, Gardy is under the impression that he will be competing for a starting job, while skipper Aaron Boone has indicated otherwise.

“I expect Clint to be our left fielder and to be in that starting lineup. … Obviously, a guy like Gardy is a guy that would play a lot, as do a lot of our guys that will, quote unquote, be bench players or whatever,” Boone said. “But Clint is going to be a regular player for us going into the season.”

It seems as if Boone and Gardy are on different pages, as the veteran outfielder is under the assumption that he will compete for a starting gig.

“I’m planning on playing every day,” he said. “Obviously, that’s not realistic. I know that’s not going to happen.

The Yankees might bring out the beast in Gardy:

Brett isn’t going to let Frazier walk into the sunset with his starting job, even if he knows the likelihood of him playing every day is low. That hasn’t deterred the veteran from playing like he’s 30 years old, despite the fact that he’s currently 37 and six months away from being 38.

“I’ll be ready and prepared,” Gardner said. “I love playing. I’ve never been shy about that. So I do love playing every day. … If (Boone) had told me I was going to play 162 (games), I would sign up for it. But I realized that’s not my role going into it. But I also have been around long enough how quickly roles can change. So, again, just get my work in down here in the spring and be ready for April 1.”

Gardner is making a good chunk of change this season to be a backup, specifically 5.15 million. A pretty good deal for a player who might have to play 50% of the time or less.

Nonetheless, the changing of the guards is an exciting prospect, and hopefully, Clint can lock it down for the foreseeable future after displaying much-improved defense in 2021.