As of right now, in terms of who the Yankees are paying in 2020, their outfield will consist of Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton. With all three of these players very injury-prone—and Hicks start to start the first half on the injured list—the fourth outfielder will play a critical role in 2020.
There are a few different routes the Yankees could go down when it comes to who that fourth outfielder will be. The first option is Brett Gardner. Gardner is a free agent and would almost definitely re-sign with the Yankees no matter the price. He was the longest-tenured Yankee on the 2019 roster and would be in 2020 as well. Gardner hit a career-high 28 home runs in 2019 and the value and experience he would bring to that clubhouse are unmatched.
The next option is Mike Tauchman. Unexpectedly, Tauchman played a huge role in the Yankees’ success in 2019. Tauchman is under team control and will most likely be paid the league minimum. He provided great depth all year on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and was one of the summer’s hottest hitters in all of baseball. One issue with Tauchman is the unknown of whether he could duplicate his 2019 performance.
A third option is Cameron Maybin. The journeyman was another big part of the Yankees’ depth last season. Playing on his eighth team in his age-32 season, Maybin hit very well in 82 games, provided stellar defense and was a threat on the bases. Maybin is a free agent this offseason and only played in New York for one year so he is most likely weighing his options, but would probably sign back with the Yankees at the right price.
There are even more options than just these three, such as Clint Frazier. However, in my opinion, the strongest case to be made is for Gardner as the fourth outfielder. At this point, we all know what he brings to the table. Each and every day, Gardner will give 100%. On top of that, he can, in fact, play each and every day (he has averaged 142 games per season since he turned 30). He is also a leader, an experienced veteran, a seven-time playoff contender, and a World Series champion who has seen and played in almost every situation professional baseball has to offer.
In 2019, Gardner had one of the best years of his career. In a year where Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton couldn’t seem to stay on the field, Gardner hit 28 home runs, drove in 74 runs, and hit for an OPS of .829. That’s not bad for a 35-year-old outfielder.
There is still value to guys like Tauchman and Frazier who will likely be with the Yankees in 2020. Those players each have relatively good trade value and can obviously provide great depth for an outfield that is injury-prone. However, it feels like it’d be the wrong move to leave Gardner off the 2020 roster.
Who do you think should be the fourth outfielder? Let us know in the comments.