The Yankees have turned down their $ 10 million club selection for the midfielder Brett Gardner, Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link) reports. Instead, he will receive a $ 2.5 million purchase. The Yankees are interested in bringing the 37-year-old back to the Bronx, Heyman added, but it will have to come at a price cheaper than his option. With the acquisition figure, the Yankees chose not to bring Gardner back with the $ 7.5 million decision-making amount.
The longest-term Yankee player, Gardner has joined the organization since they picked him up in the third round of the 2005 draft. He has had a long, very productive career as a High OBP player with a hint of pop music, excellent defensive player on the left flank. Gardner reinvented himself as something of a slugger in 2019, when he hit .251 / .325 / .503 with 28 home runs in over 550 appearances. That strong season led the Yankees to secure him $ 12.5 million on a one-year deal with this option last season.
Gardner still works quite effectively in the abbreviated 2020 season, reaching the .223 / .354 / .392 milestone with 5 home visits over 158 appearances. His prowess has taken a step back from its 2019 peak, but Gardner’s ISO .169 (ratio of skidding minus polished average) is still very solid. His strike and header rates are both career high, but both are well below the league average. And Gardner has always patiently drawn a boat walk to support his number of facilities.
That said, the Yankees’ refusal to choose should not come as a surprise. Some teams turned down picks that often seemed justified after suffering massive revenue losses due to a season with no fans. The New York organization itself appears likely to be downsizing this winter. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier in the first screen, the Yankees were not hurt by off-court help, although it is arguable that Gardner’s left-handed baton fits well with the Yankees’ extremely heavy squad.
It’s hard to imagine Gardner in anything other than his Yankee uniform, and the door seems to remain open to return. But now he is free to explore his options with all thirty clubs. At his age no one would have doubted that Gardner is a daily striker, but he is still capable of playing in the middle when needed and should be average on the left. Many teams consider Gardner as a short-term upgrade, at least the strong side of the platoon arrangement.