Money, money, money that is the talking point this off-season for the New York Yankees and the majority of the MLB. After a devastating COVID-19 influenced 2020 season, teams are lying low and selling off on their star players — only the New York Mets seem to be aggressive in the market, along with the San Diego Padres.
The Yankees, however, have focused primarily on DJ LeMahieu, picking up a few minor league contracts here and there, but nothing that screams starting talent. General manager Brian Cashman acquired a few options, including Greg Allen, a speedy outfielder from the Padres, SP Jhoulys Chacin, and Socrates Brito.
As I’ve been saying the past few weeks, don’t expect the Yankees to get aggressive in this barren market, especially with the lack of starting pitching talent to consider. Expect Cashman to settle for cost-efficient contracts, like the one that could present itself for Corey Kluber, who has missed a majority of the past two seasons due to injury.
However, one familiar face the Yankees still have to decide on is Brett Gardner, who’s contract extension they rejected this offseason. Gardner had a club option for $10 million in 2021, but they chose the $2.5 million buyouts, which suggests that they could retain him on a cheaper deal.
MLB Insider Bryan Hoch believes the Yankees and Gardner will come to a compromise:
Gardner said late in the season that he did not want his final games as a Yankee to be played in an empty ballpark, and there is no sense that he is interested in concluding his career wearing a different uniform. Money shouldn’t be an overwhelming factor for Gardner and both sides seem interested, so I expect him to eventually sign a one-year deal.
That said, it is unclear how much playing time Gardner could be assured. The outfield projects to feature Clint Frazier in left field, Aaron Hicks in center and Aaron Judge in right, with Giancarlo Stanton serving as the regular designated hitter. Allen was added to the 40-man roster following the trade with San Diego, joining Estevan Florial and Mike Tauchman as outfield depth. The Yanks also recently signed outfielder Socrates Brito to a Minor League contract.
Based on the fact that Gardy stated he didn’t want his final season in the MLB to come in front of zero fans, it indicates his interest to return to the MLB. His agent several weeks ago stated that he wasn’t too worried about the near future, as the Yankees always seem to find a way to retain him and include him in their plans. This past season, Gardner had one of his more disappointing campaigns, averaging .223 with five homers and 15 RBIs. This followed a season littered with career-highs in 2019 when he hit 28 homers and 74 RBIs.
I fully expect the Yankees to sign him to a one-year deal, just out of merit and loyalty. Somewhere in the $4 million range makes sense, which would end up saving them about $3.5 million after the rejection of his club option.