The New York Yankees made a smart move declining Brett Gardner’s club option for the 2021 season. They were set to pay him $10 million if GM Brian Cashman accepted the offer, but saving the capital and investing it elsewhere is a priority, especially after a tough COVID-19 riddled season.
Ultimately, Gardner isn’t worth $10 million anymore, especially after posting a .223 batting average with a 22.2 strikeout rate this past season. However, he did walk 16.5% of the time, showing an innate ability to get on base. He finished with a .354 OBP, his highest since 2010.
Oddly, Gardner went from hitting .251 in 2019 with 28 homers and 74 RBIs to hitting five homers and 15 RBIs in a third of the reps. He was on pace for 17 homers and 51 RBIs, still solid, but not as productive.
The New York Yankees should offer Gardner another contract:
Bringing back Gardner is a good idea for the Yankees, and GM Cashman should be inquiring about a one-year deal and what he would cost. Ultimately, he will experience a decrease in reps with the emergence of Clint Frazier and the presence of Mike Tauchman.
Nonetheless, the final 13 regular-season games this past year were elite for Gardner, as he slashed .394/.524/.667. He also played well in the postseason, showing that he can be an integral part of the outfield at 37 years old.
Gardner simply provides leadership and experience on defense and offense. He is one of the best defenders in the outfield for the Yankees, and getting rid of him would simply hurt their depth and ability to supplement injuries. He is the most tenured player in pinstripes, and if they could secure him on a one year, $5 million deal, he should take it and walk into retirement with fans in the stands for one final season. The expectation is that teams will be able to funnel fans into games next year, given a COVID-19 vaccine is distributed efficiently.
Gardner has already mentioned that he wants to return to baseball for one more season so his family can watch him play live, indicating a return is likely in the works.
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