The Yankees recently “rekindled” their discussions about a reunion with outfielder Brett Gardner, per Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link), who adds that he expects a deal to eventually be reached. ESPN’s Buster Olney noted last week that the Yankees still hoped to bring Gardner back.
New York still hasn’t formally announced DJ LeMahieu’s reported six-year, $90MM contract, but between that signing, Corey Kluber’s $11MM agreement (also not yet formally announced) and this weekend’s acquisition of right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Yanks are quite close to the $210MM luxury tax barrier. A reunion with Gardner probably wouldn’t cost more than a few million dollars, however, and the club seems likely to be able to find a way to stay south of the threshold if that indeed remains an ownership goal.
The 37-year-old Gardner has spent his entire 13-year Major League career with the Yankees. In 2020, he put together a .223/.354/.392 batting line. That .223 mark was a career-low batting average, due in part to a career-high 22.2 percent strikeout rate, but Gardner’s results in last year’s short sample weren’t all bad. His 16.5 percent walk rate was a career-high by a wide margin, and Statcast also credited Gardner with career-best marks in hard-hit rate (36.5 percent), average exit velocity (89.2 mph) and barreled balls (5.2 percent). Gardner’s 76 percent contact rate was the lowest of his career, but he also chased pitches outside the strike zone at his lowest rate since 2010 and, as a result, made better contact when he did put the the bat on the ball.
The Yankees’ outfield figures to be filled on a regular basis by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier, with primary designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton cycling into the corners at times as well. New York has lefty-hitting Mike Tauchman on the 40-man roster as well, and he’s out of minor league options, so he’ll need to break the Opening Day roster or else be designated for assignment or traded elsewhere. Taucman, though, hit .242/.342/.305 in 111 plate appearances last year, showing none of the pop he displayed in a breakout 2019 campaign.