As expected, the Yankees have engaged with Brett Gardner early in the offseason.
Gardner hit a career-best 28 home runs in MLB’s high-flying environment and achieved personal-highs with a .503 slugging percentage and .829 OPS. At the same time, the 35-year-old former Gold Glover moved back to center field in place of the injured Aaron Hicks and avoided his characteristic second-half slide.
(For more on Gardner’s remarkable 2019, check out Bobby’s season review from Monday.)
Last offseason, the Yankees signed Gardner to a one-year, $7.5 million deal after they declined his $12.5 million option and paid a $2 million buyout. New York’s longest-tenured player should be in line for a similar base salary after offsetting his aging with sustained speed and improved power.
If Hicks were healthy to begin the 2020 season, the Yankees could have justified letting Gardner go with Mike Tauchman as the fourth outfielder and Giancarlo Stanton taking most of the reps in left field. You’d rather let a guy leave a year early rather than a year late, right? However, Hicks’ Tommy John surgery threw a wrench into those plans and left the Bombers lacking both a left-handed bat and center fielder.
Can Gardner hold up another year? One would hope. Even if his bat and glove take a step back, a reasonable assumption for 36-year-old outfielder, his presence in the clubhouse is worth the price tag as he’s seemingly served as de facto captain for multiple seasons now.