What are the chances the Yankees will make up with Gardner?
With all the decisions the New York Yankees have to make to fix the pitching rotation and infield problem, it’s hard to believe the Yankee brass concentrates their efforts on holding on to fan-favorite Brett Gardner. But in this cash strapped season, when the dust settles, and the Yankees work their magic and are happy with the pitching rotation, they will address the Brett Gardner situation. After the World Series, they made the quick decision not to take up his option at $10M for the 2021 season.
As it stands now, the Yankees will buy him out by exercising the buy-out clause in his contract, which will pay him $2.5 million to go back to his farm in the Carolinas. But don’t think for one minute, that is the end of the story. The New York Yankees know that Gardner has value to them. Yes, he is 37 years old but is still one of the elite defensive players in baseball. The Yankees are also aware that Giancarlo Stanton is pretty well shot in the outfield. They also know of the Aarons, Hicks, and Judge’s injury history. If either of them gets injured, Gardner is the answer. He can play left and centerfield more than adequately.
If this article were written on September, I would have said that is no way that the Yankees would bring Gardner back, even though he had a career year in 2019. After all, he was hitting .165 with a .293 on-base percentage, a .299 slugging percentage, and a .590 OPS on Sept. 9. It surely looked like Gardner was finally done. But, Gardner proved them wrong by batting .394 (13-for-33) with a .540 on-base percentage, a .667 slugging percentage, and a 1.190 OPS in the last 13 games of the season. He continued his excellent play throughout the postseason.
We also don’t know what effect the short season had on Gardner or any other player for that matter. If he played lousy for the first 47 games of the season and played really well for the last 115 games of the season, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, and the Yankees would have exercised his option. Don’t count out another “Gardy party.” Like they did last year, the Yankees will most likely wait until late, but there is a very good chance Brett Gardner will be back in pinstripes again next season.
Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier don’t win, but the Yankees do
Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier were both finalists for Gold Glove Awards at their positions, but both had lost when the news came in last night. Personally, for them, that new was unfortunate. But just the announcement that they were contending for the awards was a big win for the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have known that they had a Gold Glove-like man at third base. When they brought up Urshela last year to replace the injured Miguel Andujar, they immediately saw what they had at the hot corner. Gio made great play after great play and also proved he could hit. This season it was more of the same, cementing him as the Yankees 3rd baseman of the future.
The biggest win for the Yankees came in the form of Clint Frazier. Just a year ago, who would have thought that Frazier would ever be a Gold Glove defenseman. Yes, Frazier had a quick bat and could hit for both contact and power, but he was mostly thought of as a bungler in the field. Enter this year and totally changed, Frazier emerged flying through the air to catch balls that seemed impossible to catch. Frazier proved he could play both left and right field at Yankee Stadium. The bottom line is that the Yankees have two of the best defensive players in the league.
Miguel Andujar, the New York Yankee’s ghost of the year
What the hell ever happened to the Yankees future star, Miguel Andujar? It seems like years ago that “Miggy” was having a breakout season when he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, posting a .855 OPS. That was 2018; this is now. Misfortune struck the young star in the form of a shoulder injury, causing him to miss the entire 2019 season.
Meanwhile, the Yankees brought up Gio Urshela from the minors to fill in for the injured Andujar. What they got was a player that played third base better than Andujar ever did. When spring training rolled around this year, the Yankees faced a dilemma, what to do with Andujar. They certainly weren’t going to put him back at 3rd base, so they tried everything. They played him at first base and in the outfield, trying to find a fit. That fit never happened. Although he kicked around for awhile in the short season, he was eventually sent to the alternative site and became a Yankee ghost.
Now in the offseason, the Yankees again have to figure out what to do with a player that could still be a star, but they really don’t have any use. Unfortunately for Yankee fans that are big on Andujar, his value today for the Yankees is mostly as a trading piece. Andujar’s time with the Yankees has come and gone.
Will the New York Yankees score big this offseason?
The New York Yankees lost the most revenue in this shortened coronavirus season. The estimate from TMR is that the Yankees lost $437 million in revenue from not having fans in the stands and no concession sales. Add to that costs that continued for staff and Yankee Stadium maintenance, and that total far exceeds $500 million. Then add the Yankee player payroll for the prorated season, and that total reaches over $655 million without making a dime.
When deciding how much money to spend on the issues the Yankees must solve, they had to consider those losses, especially considering there is no clear answer to if fans will be allowed in the stands in 2021. The Yankees also have two albatrosses on the payroll; Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton that take up $65 million. Gerrit Cole’s payroll alone is more than the entire roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The bottom line is that the New York Yankees will pinch every penny they can. Any blockbuster deals that involve spending big bucks, like a Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or a Francisco Lindor purchase, is as likely to happen as snow on July 4th. The Yankees will try to solve their shortstop problem, pick up a 3rd in rotation type starting pitcher, and most likely another quality arm in the bullpen. Much more than that is very unlikely.