In 2008, Brett Gardner played in 42 games for the New York Yankees. Twelve seasons and 1499 games later, Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee. He is also a free agent this offseason. But do the New York Yankees need to sign the 36-year-old outfielder?
Should He Stay?
There are several reasons to keep the aging veteran. He had career-best in OPS (.829), homers (28), RBI’s (74) and slugging (.503). Steady and dependable, Gardner played in 141 games and batted third in the postseason. A pesky lefty in an overwhelmingly right-handed lineup, he also saw 4.33 pitches per at-bat – fifth-best in all of baseball.
Another factor in re-signing Gardner is the health of Aaron Hicks. Hicks is looking at eight to ten months to recover after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gardner’s versatility allows him to play more than one outfield position and can be an everyday starter. He can be a defensive replacement in late innings or even a platoon player, splitting time with Clint Frazier or Giancarlo Stanton.
Should He Go?
The Yankees could let Brett Gardner go, as they are a deep team. Mike Tauchman can play centerfield while Frazier and Stanton could share time in left field. The Yankees also still have Jacoby Ellsbury – though it is doubtful he’ll contribute anything to the team in the foreseeable future. In due time, Aaron Hicks will also return.
The team will also have to consider the cost of him compared to his abilities. Gardner made $7.5 million last season, which is money that could certainly go towards investing in the starting rotation. Gardner’s 2019 was a bounce-back year after a dismal 2018. Perhaps regression is feared by the Yankees, as he only batted .176 in the postseason with one home run.
Although Gardner is the last vestige of the Yankees’ championship team of 2009 at the old Yankee Stadium, the team will ultimately have to decide if his versatility and veteran leadership are worth a shot over of acquiring the players they need to take the next step in 2020.
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