Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner debuted in the majors in 2008, but it’s possible this will be the 37-year-old’s final season in the bigs. If it’s up to Gardner, though, that won’t be the case. He said Friday (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com) that he would “love to” play in 2021.
The Yankees, with whom Gardner has spent his entire career and racked up 37.3 fWAR, have a $10MM option over him for 2021, but it’s quite possible they’ll decline it in favor of a $2.5MM buyout. The club re-signed Gardner for a guaranteed $12.5MM after last season, in which he slashed .251/.325/.503 with a career-high 28 home runs and 10 stolen bases across 550 plate appearances, but he has since posted a .198/.333/.387 line with five homers and three steals over 135 PA.
While Gardner has started more games in left than any other Yankee this year, they’ll continue to have Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier in the fold as corner choices in a year. Either of those two or Giancarlo Stanton could be their No. 1 option at the position next season if Aaron Judge is able to man right on a regular basis. So, although he’s the longest-tenured Yankee, one of their heart-and-soul players and someone who has been rather productive throughout his career, Gardner could end up on the outs in the wake of a down season. However, even if the Yankees decline Gardner’s option, they could choose to bring him back on a more team-friendly deal.