The Yankees have declined their $10MM club option on outfielder Brett Gardner, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). He’ll instead receive a $2.5MM buyout. The Yankees have interest in bringing the 37-year-old back to the Bronx, Heyman adds, but it’ll have to come at a cheaper rate than his option price. Given the buyout figure, the Yankees opted against bringing Gardner back on what amounts to a $7.5MM decision.
The longest-tenured Yankee player, Gardner has been in the organization since they selected him in the third round of the 2005 draft. He has gone on to a long, very productive career as a high-OBP hitter with a little bit of pop who plays excellent defense in left field. Gardner reinvented himself as something of a slugger in 2019, when he hit .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs over 550 plate appearances. That strong season prompted the Yankees to guarantee him $12.5MM on a one-year deal with this option last offseason.
Gardner was still fairly productive in the abbreviated 2020 season, hitting .223/.354/.392 with five home runs over 158 plate appearances. His power took a step back from its 2019 heights, but Gardner’s .169 ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) was still solid. His strikeout and whiff rates were each at career-high levels, but both remained lower than league average. And the ever-patient Gardner drew a boatload of walks to prop up his on-base numbers.
That said, the Yankees declining the option isn’t much of a surprise. A few teams have already declined options that would typically seem reasonable on the heels of massive revenue losses due to a season with no fans. The New York organization itself seems likely to scale back payroll this winter. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier in the fold already, the Yankees aren’t hurting for outfield help, although it’s arguable Gardner’s left-handed bat fits well in the Yankees’ righty-heavy lineup.
It’s hard to imagine Gardner in anything other than a Yankee uniform, and the door seemingly remains open to a return. But he’s now free to explore his options with all thirty clubs. At his age, it’s doubtful anyone will see Gardner as an everyday center fielder, but he’s still capable of playing up the middle when needed and should be above-average in left. Plenty of teams figure to have interest in Gardner as a short-term upgrade, at least as the strong side of a platoon arrangement.
Seriously…the fact that it’s even reported they’re interested in bringing back (whether true or not) is a head-scratcher.
Time to turn the page. I’ve long respected Gardy, but he does not represent a need unless Cashman nuts up and deals Judge.
Seeing Popeye with any other team doesn’t seem right. This guy plays soooo hard, some players should take a look. Even though I’m a RS fan I really enjoy watching him play.
Yankee for life…
They dont think Gardner is worth $7.5 million? If they can get him back for less fine but I hope they don’t lose him
Bring him back if it’s less than 5 Million if he refuses say goodbye. The time has come to move on if they can’t reach an agreement.
He’s had 7 years in which he’s averaged about .250 over that timeframe.
Yankees can either acquire considerably better production or perhaps they want to ho a different route.
Either way, they’ve sunk 2.5 mill into him for 2021. Unless they can get him to come back for say $4mill or around that, maybe less, time to move on.
The $2.5M counts against 2020, but I understand your point. My guess is they’re looking at a $3-5M base. If they move in they will need a back up CFer, especially as Hicks is injury prone and no good for more than a 120 games in a season.
dave frost nhlpa
I’d agree to $2.5,which equals out to $5M for 2021.
Are you really using batting average as a barometer of how good a player is? Gardiner is worth 42.8 WAR over his career which is impressive and 101 career OPS+ when you factor in his defence makes him a well above average player. He hasn’t been under 3.2 WAR in a full season since his sophomore year. Batting average is meaningless.
I’d rather spend $13-$15 and grab Brantley. Left handed, doesn’t strike out much, career .300 hitter. 3 years younger than Gardy
I think he comes back on a $2.5M deal, that potential 2 year/$20M deal turns into 2 years. $15M and then he retires, does some time in their scouting and development departments, etc. and is named manager around 2026 or 2027.
If they can actually stay Healthy they don’t need Gardner but his club house presence and lefty bat helps. Tauchman time doe
Tauchman was so bad this year though. Bring back Gardy and let Tauchman go if he is out of options.
It’s time to move on, at this point he’s just takings AB’s away from Frazier and they can get similar production from Tauchman at a fraction of the cost.
Tauchman was a fluke. As I noted elsewhere, can’t hit velocity and the Yankees don’t view him as a CFer. He’d be ok to keep around if he had a minor league option and they could bounce him up and down when needed, but he doesn’t. They should cut Tauchman, bring Gardner back as the 4th OFer, and find a Tauchman-like player they can stash in AAA.
I think Florial is the man for the job. Time to start using him.
Nah, he’d still get plenty of AB’s even with Gardy on board, because Judge and Stanton cannot stay healthy.
I love Brett Gardner. Definition of a scrappy player. And while we’re all beating up analytics, you can’t measure his value to the Yankees
I would be shocked if Yankees let Gardner sign elsewhere. It would be great but Yankees tend to hold onto players too long.
Look, the guy’s been pretty ‘meh” the past few years. But the in-game skills are superb, and his clubhouse (so they say) is also considered exceptional.
Gardner needs to stay a Yankee, just not at 10M. Somewhere considerably less than that. Or he rides off into the sunset having accomplished something few players could ever do; be under-rated while playing in New York.
“With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier in the fold already, the Yankees aren’t hurting for outfield help”
lol we’ll see how that ages after 3 accidents within the first month of the season.
My thoughts exactly. With their recent injury history it seems like the Yankees need him now more than ever.
Had to create an account to fend off all the Gardy haters here. Taking away ABs from Frazier? This season the Yanks had their starting DH on the IL and plugged in Mike Ford…yes, Mike Ford in instead of Frazier. When Judge went down, who did they call? Mike Tauchman! Gardner was never taking away ABs from Clint, Rather, it has been an insistence to play Ford & Tauchman.
Gardner remains an above average outfielder defensively, despite the imperfections of defensive statistics. He breaks up the lineup with a consistently great approach, working the count and battling hard at the bottom of the lineup. Don’t put him in the lineup with a lefty on the mound. But please, save me the “let him walk”.
Mans never became a “slugger” in ‘19, wonder how ahah
Lol, nothing suspicious going on over there.
Juiced ball. Also, he had a .778 OPS in 2017, then the .829 in the juiced ball 2019 year. Not so different; not so surprising. Lots of players had eye-popping numbers in ’19. Take a look around. .050 points in OPS is not a staggering surge. And he’s a lefty in Yankee Stadium.
Clint Frazier 2021. Thanks for your service Brett.
They can both coexist on the roster. One as the starter—Frazier—the other—Gardner—as the 4th OFer.
Twins fans are happy right now
Loved watching him banging his head on the clubhouse roof. What an inspiration.
The biggest issue if Gardner leaves is they need someone else to play CF. Hicks is not playing 162 games out there. He never has. He’s a bit injury prone, so they’d be lucky to get 120/130 starts, and if he suffered a serious injury they’d have no CFer at all. No. It’s not Tauchman. They’ve made it clear in his usage that they don’t view him as a CFer. He’s started all of 13 games there the last two seasons, a number of them late in 2019 as an emergency when all their OFers were injured. Tauchman is basically a backup to the backup CFer! Also, Tauchman was likely a fluke in 2019. He was exposed in 2020. Can’t really handle velocity. He put up a 83 OPS+, which is very bad. Gardner put up a 108 OPS+. Frazier is not a CFer.
My point is not that Gardner has to come back, but if he doesn’t, they have to find a legitimate CFer to also be on the roster, but one who is not going to play everyday and would accept that role. Ideally that guy is a lefty would provide a counter to the Yankees right-handed lineup, and someone who can hit righties. That guy is not there now.
Looking at the free-agent list, I do see one good match. Someone who would accept the 4th OFer role. He is a lefty. Speedy. Good fielder. Can play CFer. Can play the large LF at Yankee Stadium when Frazier is not in the lineup. He put up an .800 OPS against righties last year, 18% above league average. He’s also a good base runner if you need that late in the game off the bench. Shouldn’t be expensive. $5M or less to be the 4th OFer. His name? Brett Gardner. He’ll be back.
I’d gladly take Gardner back for $5 million. If not the Yankees might go with Florial as the back up CFer.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Might wanna chill on the Florial stuff. Disregarding his call up this summer he hasn’t played above High A.
He’s a ways away yet.
While I agree with you on Florial, 2021 is going to be the year of aggressive promotions. With teams slashing payroll, there are going to be a ton of early promotions (in some cases right out of camp) to fill spots that were previously filled by $3M-$5M+ players. A lot of these kids are going to go directly from AA right to the majors, so while I too doubt that Florial makes the Yankees out of camp, there is an outside chance he does make it to the majors sometime in 2021 if the Yankees have multiple injuries and don’t want to add a veteran for payroll purposes.
5 million plus incentives. Brett deserves every penny. Just the hard nose kind of player every professional baseball team needs…
Ducky Buckin Fent
I have no qualms admitting I’m a fan of GGBG. To get *that* out of the way.
Honestly, I think the Yanks may have done this in a “normal” off-season. Gardy was almost a must sign last winter. Hicks was going to be out after his TJS. So, the Yankees kind of had to overpay a bit.
The Yanks need a 4th outfielder that can play center. Is that going to be Tauchman? I’m not sure. He looked awful this year. No home runs (!) & he didn’t even look as good defensively.
I think the Yanks’ll keep Gardy on the radar.
I’m wondering what the difference will be between Gardy’s 7.5 mil option & what Joc Pederson is going to get. He’s the only possible upgrade on the free agent market. *If* he can still play a reasonable CF.
Which I’m unclear on.
I’d be fine with Peterson coming in to replace Gardner as the 4th OFer. Younger. A good fielder, lots of power. The challenge will be cost and length of contract. If they can solve that, bring him on!
Ducky Buckin Fent
This is where the Yanks need to really think about bringing back DJ.
We haven’t see the MLBTR top 50 free agent list yet. But, I don’t think I’m way off base thinking that LaStella & Pederson combined may cost *less* than LeMahieu.
Personally, I’d opt for that. It’s not exactly a clear or easy choice & I certainly may change my mind later this morning.
If the Yankees are truly going to try to get under the CBT threshold for 2021, I’d say there’s no chance DJL comes back unless he’s willing to accept a deal in the 2/$30M range (which is highly unlikely). In addition to this backup OF and permanent SS or 2B (depending on where Torres plays), the Yankees need starting pitching. Definitely one starter and most likely two. Signing their arbitration players and the SPs alone will push them very close to the CBT doorstep so there won’t be much money left to sign an above average 2B & 4th OF, let alone DJL.
I can’t really figure out what Pederson will cost. He was bad this “year” but it was a 60-game season and his role got shot to hell when Mookie arrived. He was good before and I’m sure he will be again. Can’t hit lefties, but the Dodgers never really gave him the opportunity to improve. The Yankees very righty power lineup could provide significant protection for Pederson. Because of the three batter minimum, teams won’t be able to easily bring in a lefty specialist to counter Pederson without facing a lefty killer like Stanton…or pick your poison.
The Yankees picking up Britton’s expensive option may be a sign that they’ve decided not to try and get under the threshold this offseason. Unknown, but I maintained before they picked it up that how they handle it could be a sign if they’re looking to increase or decrease payroll.
Ducky Buckin Fent
My thoughts as well, @lordd99.
The Yanks picking up that option is at least some indication that they fully realize the folly of trying to duck below the CBT in ’21.
You don’t have 40+ mil invested in the pen if you are serious about cutting payroll.
Also, I see you @mantooth.
The issue *now* is, are the Yanks indeed serious about getting under a 210 mil payroll.
I actually don’t think they are.
Cashman is a pretty smart dude. He’s gotta be salivating over this year’s free agent market both in terms of players available, cost, & less competition for those players.
If the Yankees decide to run a payroll ~ 240 mil they can bring a team to spring training that’s better than the previous version.
@Ducky Buckin Fent
Hope you’re right about the Yanks foregoing their attempt to duck the CBT. When they acquired Cole for the sum he cost, it seemed they HAD to be committed to paying a tax EVERY YEAR or risk not having enough money to cover all their other needs in a perpetual Win Now mode. As proof, they will risk foregoing their Win Now brand THIS YEAR, right after acquiring Cole, if they commit themselves to ducking the CBT.
Pederson. Darn autocorrect!
@ Ducky – in part; your comment about “Gardy’s 7.5 mil option” makes me insert my comment here. The option was $10 mil with a $2.5 mil buyout – the latter being the move the Yankees made. In my mind to make this a 7.5 mil signing of Gardy the Yankees need to sign him for $5 mil plus the $2.5 would make it a $7.5 mil contract. Or did I get lost in what you were saying in your comment?
Ducky Buckin Fent
He already cost the 2.5 mil buyout.
Meaning, the Yankees didn’t pay the 7.5 which was the cost – at this point – to retain him.
So – in a sense – they had *at least* 7.5 million more earmarked – at one point, anyway – for the outfield.
I’m still not sure if I’m explaining that the way I want to lol.
As an Indians fan oh how I wish the Yankees had taken Bradley Zimmer instead of Clint Frazier in that andrew Miller trade. Zimmer is never going to be any good. Not in Cleveland anyway. The yanks are going to have many good years out of Frazier.
Zimmer’s career really hasn’t taken off, at least yet. Lots of injuries, IIRC.
It is possible Frazier could return to Cleveland as part of a Lindor trade. :-).
There is always a player on an opposing team that you’d love to be on yours. Brett Gardner was the Yankee I always wanted to see in an Orioles uniform. And Dustin Pedroia was the Red Sox I always wished for.
As a Yankee fan, the guy for me was always Markakis. Guy is a ball player.
Yeah. That was a pretty dumb move, in retrospect, to let Markakis go. I know there was the neck issue but it hasn’t seemed to hinder him in Atlanta.
Also, in thinking about a Jays player, I think it would have to be Edwin Encarnacion, both for his bat and getting to listen to Gary Thorne butcher his name on a nightly basis.
The Ray I would have liked was Rocco Baldelli. Was too bad his playing career was cut short.
I’d take him in Tampa.
It’s time to let Frazier get the full time job for the full year. See what he can do. Gardy is certainly always welcome to stay as 4th outfielder.
I agree with this tactic. They’re saying there’s a plan to have a 162 game season in 2021, so give Frazier the starting spot and see what he does with that certainty and the public confidence in him. We all know he won’t be too consistent, but he’ll be streaky enough that numbers will add up and he could always turn into a big game performer down the stretch if he doesn’t get the yips.
Only way I want Gardy back is 1 year 5 million and to be the 4th outfielder. Frazier has earned his spot in left. I’m tired of the yankees starting Gardner when he’s not very good anymore
Re-signing him at a lesser rate to be a 4th OF with an injury-prone team should be strongly considered. Don’t see why he needs to be gone or why some feel he needs to go.
Dead weight needs to be cut. Gardner is a trash player who was mediocre at best in his best seasons. Time to get rid of this joke of a player and move on. He should never get to wear a Yankee uniform again.
I’m impressed by those who like to aim a spotlight on their ignorance.
Yep it is
Yankee fans be like “ build him a monument” other fans career 10 home run 45 RBI player. Wouldn’t play on most teams.
Gardner on this roster playing for free would be a mistake. He stinks. Doesn’t deserve to be a Yankee.
He seems to always play well against the jays. I like him as a player he plays hard and hustles.
It amazes me how so many around here are always jumping about trying to convince everyone that washed up vets like Matt Kemp or Eduardo Nunez can be value if this, if that, painting every completely illogical scenario, yet some how a decent COF coming off a 108 OPS season needs to be moved on from? I do get the Yanks trying to get him for less than his option, though.
He’ll be back… it’s cashman here. Creativity, chance/risk and change are his kryptonite
Thanks Brett, but it is time to move on. Time to give the job to Clint Frazier as he has proven he can hit, and he has worked his tail off on his defense almost to the point of a golden glove award.
It’s hard to say adios to Gardy, but it’s time. Let’s face it. Frazier earned his chance and his bat will continue to improve. So who covers CF when Hicks gets hurt every year? Gardner declined this year but he still contributed a lot. It’ll be interesting to see the roster come spring.
Wouldn’t necessarily be a bad consideration for the Braves to replace Markakis. Assuming Waters is not going to be starting in LF on opening day, that means it’s still Adam Duvall. Having Gardner as the 4th OF in place of Markakis would be a good choice for a veteran lefty if the money is available to sign him.