Brett Gardner, Yankees Mutually Decline Option

The Yankees’ offseason has now officially begun. The team announced that Brett Gardner declined his $2.3 million player option today; in turn, the Yankees declined their $7.15 million team option for the longest-tenured Yank. In other, related news, Darren O’Day declined his player option, and the Yankees declined. That was not surprising.

I am surprised by this from Gardner’s perspective, on the other hand. As I wrote in last week’s season review, I thought that Gardner’s player option was pretty close to fair market value for him. Coupled with the fact that Gardner has said that he wants to return to New York, I just assumed he’d pick it up to get it over with. (There was obviously no chance the Yankees would ever pick up their option if he declined his.) That obviously didn’t happen. As such, Gardner is now a free agent, and his future is very much up in the air.

Now, a lot of folks are suggesting that this is the end of Gardner’s Yankee tenure. I’m not so sure. It’s certainly possible – if not even probable – but there is still a chance that the two parties have a framework agreed to already. It wouldn’t shock me. For all of the talk of Gardner’s farewell, it has yet to come so far.

We will see, in other words. If Gardner is indeed done, though, let’s at least re-up some of the fun stats from his season in review:

  • Gardner’s 44.3 career bWAR as a Yankee is good for 17th in franchise history. It’s more than Don Mattingly (42.4) and Jorge Posada (42.7), while ranking just behind Robinson Canó (44.4).
  • If his career was spent entirely in Toronto instead of New York, he would be the best position player in Blue Jays history by bWAR, ranking ahead of Jose Bautista (38.3). That is also true in Arizona (Paul Goldschmidt, 39.9) and Miami (Giancarlo Stanton, 35.7). He’d even be close for the crosstown Mets (David Wright, 49.2). 
  • With 1,688 games played in pinstripes, just 12 other people in history have played more games for the Yankees. (With one more season under his belt, he will be in the top 10 in this category.)
  • Gardner has 1,470 hits as a Yankee. Just 21 individuals have more in pinstripes.

You know what they say: Brett Gardner forever.


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  1. Jacques

    If this is the end for Gardner, thanks for all the dedication and striving through the highs and lows. His consistent relentless efforts will never be forgotten. The clubhouse now needs a new leader. His number won’t be retired though -_-

  2. byomtov

    Not sure this means much other than Gardner wants more than $2.3 and the Yankees don’t want to pay $7.15. Whether there is a mutually acceptable number somewhere in between remains to be seen.

    I doubt he’ll be a hot property on the FA market at much north of $2.3.

  3. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Gardy’s a True Yankee, Bobby. If he wants to come back they should ask him what he wants and give it to him. He’s a throwback to the Yankee clubs of old that were tough and could actually joke around with each other. We need that to keep the babies like Cole in line. And he can still play as long as it’s not an every day role. They need to sign a good 4th outfielder that can play CF and stay healthy. Then Gardy can be the 5th outfielder and not the next guy in line when Hicks does get hurt. I’m glad O’Day opted out and he should not be brought back. What a waste of money that was. Good riddance. We already have enough good relievers.

  4. Bubba Crosby's Left Cleat

    Haven’t seen it brought up that this is likely mutually agreed 40 man roster manipulation. If he picks up the option they need to roster him prior to the non-tender deadline & Rule V draft.

    By waiting until Feb/March to magically come to terms they don’t need to carry him on the 40 man until the ILs open back up anyway & they can stash guys like Britton.

  5. DZB

    I suppose this makes sense from Gardner’s perspective. He gets the $1.15MM from the buyout and so only needs to top the difference between that and the $2.3MM player option. Arguably, if the Yankees want him back they could easily offer him more than $1.15MM, so why not decline and see what you can negotiate? If he gets a $2MM deal from NY, that would be a decent price from the team perspective and Gardy comes out ahead.

    I was assuming O’Day would take the player option given his health status. I suppose he only needs to top the $700k, which isn’t far from the league min salary, so that may not be too hard.

  6. HenryKrinkle

    Don’t forget that there might be a lockout. Banking the buyouts now, and probably matching or slightly exceeding their player option total, if there is no work stoppage, was probably a consideration for their agents.

  7. Handtius

    It may be time for the Yankees to move on, but I say bring him back for one more and give him a proper sendoff. He’s one of my favorite modern Yankees (post 2005)

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