Brett Gardner and the Yankees Agree to Another Reunion

The Gardy Party will keep going for at least one more year. Earlier in the day, Jon Heyman and Mark Feinsand reported talks had once again resumed between the outfielder and the Yankees. It seemed inevitable that the two sides would be able to land on an agreement. A few hours after the initial reports, the Yankees and Brett agreed to a deal. Here are the details:

The options allow the Yankees to lower the salary cap luxury tax hit for the 2021 season. As we all know, the team’s main offseason goal was to field a championship-caliber team while staying under the $210 million threshold. Their most recent deals bring in solid veterans while allowing themselves some wiggle room to potentially add pieces at the deadline. The Justin Wilson and Darren O’Day contracts have similar option structures. We’re not thrilled with the decision to stay under the luxury tax number, but credit to GM Brian Cashman for finding savvy ways to build out the contracts while acquiring good talent.

We all know what we’re getting with Gardner. He will bring plus defense in left and center, provide some thump from the left side, and continue his role as a clubhouse leader. There really is no downside to bringing him back for that money at this point in the offseason.

The bigger question now is bench construction. A few days ago, Aaron Boone said publicly that Clint Frazier is his starting left fielder. I don’t see any reason why Gardner’s return would change that. Brett was a late offseason addition and took a pay cut. His best value comes as a fourth outfielder who most likely pushes Mike Tauchman off the Opening Day roster. With spring training soon to hit full swing, we can currently project the Yankees four-man bench as Brett Gardner, Kyle Higashioka, Tyler Wade (whoo hoo!), and one of Jay Bruce or Derek Dietrich. There is a chance Robinson Chirinos could take Higgy’s spot, but he may start as AAA catch depth, for now, a la Eric Kratz.

The bench looks much better than it did even a week ago. Brett Gardner’s return plays a pretty big part in that.

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5 Comments

  1. Wire Fan

    I think Tauchman is on the roster (if they go with a 4 man bench).

    A backup 1st baseman/DH (Bruce) has close to zero value as a bench player. And while Dietrich has a little more value being able to play 2nd that is not a huge need.

    Both Tauchman and Allen are out of options. And the Yankees have close to zero upper minor league OF depth (Brito). Given how injury prone the starters are I imagine they will try to keep one of them. Unless one of Dietrich or Bruce look sensational in ST, i think the last spot is Tauch or Allen

    • Randy

      Tauchman isn’t very good though. At least he hasn’t been to this point outside of one stretch of games. What exactly is his value? You can find glove first OFs in many places. You can look to trade one and release the other. A power lefty bat off the bench has good value especially for this team. Looking at it strictly from a “what position do they play” limits the options and potential usage of a 26 man roster. Bruce and Dietrich bring more to the table than Tauchman/Allen when you look at using bench spots to maximize your 26 man roster.

  2. Olaf Göggerle

    So Tauchmann is gone . He is out of options i Think . What about Release him and sign him to a Minor League Contract ?

    • MikeD

      He would be picked up. If Tauchman is the odd man out, they’ll trade him before the start of the season. At least that’s my guess. Might as well wait and see how things break on the injury front during camp.

  3. Mungo

    Happy to see my concern that the Yankees didn’t have enough wiggle room to bring back Gardner was wrong. He remained the best option for the 4th OFer role once it was clear they intended to stay under the cap, err, I mean the Yankees tax, uhh, the luxury tax, I mean the competitive balance tax.

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