A couple teams are interested in Brett Gardner on a multiyear deal but Gardy, a Yankee since 2009, prefers to remain a Yankee. So still talking.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 9, 2019
Lost in the hubbub about Stephen Strasburg’s record-breaking deal (for now) and the pursuit of Gerrit Cole was the above tweet about Brett Gardner. Little attention has been paid to Gardner of late, and understandably so with the Yankees currently big game hunting. But at some point soon, perhaps not long after Cole’s decision, Gardner should come off the board. It’s highly likely that he’s back in pinstripes next season, but for the sake of it, let’s see where else he could fit.
Gardner could reunite with his former manager in the City of Brotherly Love, just like I suggested with Didi Gregorius last week. Joe Girardi would undoubtedly be thrilled to have Gardner under his wing once again.
But where does Gardner fit in Philly? Odúbel Herrera, the Phils’ longtime center fielder, slumped to start last season and was arrested for domestic violence in May. He was suspended for the rest of the season and will have to earn his role, if any, on the 2020 team. Gardner is a more than capable replacement for Herrera, though Brett may be better off in left field at his age.
If not center, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper block Gardner in the corners. Of course, McCutchen is recovering from a torn ACL and Gardner could provide some insurance.
Chicago White Sox
There was a debunked report that the White Sox had signed free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Perhaps that could still happen, but it may mean the team is interested in acquiring an outfielder (or two).
Aside from Eloy Jiménez, there’s no reason to be excited about Chicago’s outfield in 2020. Gardner would easily be an upgrade wherever the White Sox stick him. Adam Engel and Leury García are no match for Gardy.
The south siders appear to be in spend mode and Gardner would fit right in should they decide to sign an outfielder.
The Rangers will open a new ballpark in 2020 and evidently want to put on a good show in year one. They’re linked to Anthony Rendon and already signed two pitchers: Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Gardner would be a solid addition to an outfield in need.
Joey Gallo played a decent amount of center field last season, but is better in the corners of the infield or outfield. Delino DeShields was supposed to be the team’s center fielder, but has faltered in recent years. So, there’s a spot for Gardner should Texas be willing to play him in center.
Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara, and Shin-Soo Choo have the corner outfield and designed hitter spots, but Mazara may be on shaky ground. He’s yet to reach his prospect potential and Gardner theoretically could usurp some of his playing time.
Cleveland is notoriously fickle when it comes to spending, but the team’s outfield really could use some help.
Right now, some combination of Oscar Mercado, Greg Allen, and Jake Bauers compose Cleveland’s outfield. Tyler Naquin, who had knee surgery, won’t return until midseason. If they want to overcome the Twins, they’ll need to upgrade the team’s outfield (among other things). So, it’s pretty safe to say that Cleveland would have no issue finding a spot for Gardner.
Los Angeles Angels
Gardner could join ex-Yankees executive Billy Eppler with a move to the west coast. Seems like a longshot considering Gardner’s east coast roots and stage of his career, but I’ll throw it out there nonetheless.
Gardner would be a nice complement to Mike Trout and Justin Upton, particularly now that the Halos non-tendered Kole Calhoun. Of course, the Angels are warming up one of those corner outfield spots for super prospect Jo Adell.
These are just a few teams that could have an interest in Gardner. Chances are that I wasted my time contemplating other options for the longtime Yankee. He’ll almost assuredly be back in the Bronx next season. We should get some clarity once the dust settles around Cole.