In the most predictable move of the offseason, the Yankees have reportedly signed Brett Gardner to a new contract. According to Joel Sherman, it’s a one-year deal worth $10 million with a $10 million club option for 2021. There’s a $2.5 million buyout, too. George King had news of the agreement first.
Gardner, 36, had a career year at the plate in 2019. He hit .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs (115 wRC+) over 550 plate appearances. Injuries forced him from a bench role into an everyday player, and he answered the call admirably. The rabbit ball had something to do with his production, as the Statcast numbers were not especially kind to him. Nevertheless, Gardner performed above expectations, and the Yankees rewarded him accordingly.
With Aaron Hicks sidelined to start the season, the Yankees needed a center fielder. One would imagine Gardner starts in center most days; he remains a productive defensive outfielder. Giving Gardner extra rest probably wouldn’t hurt though, and in those instances, Mike Tauchman could spell him.
The Yankees made it clear that he wanted Gardner back. “I don’t think there’s any question as to what his capabilities are,” Brian Cashman said in October. “He’s tremendous on both sides of the ball—offensively and defensively, including playing center field.” Hal Steinbrenner, meanwhile, explained that Gardner “checks all the boxes”. Gardner’s a lifer.
With Gerrit Cole and Gardner, the Yankees have taken care of the heavy lifting for the offseason. Now maybe they can swing a small deal to bring Dellin Betances back. That would be cool.
Update 1/11/20: After nearly a month, the deal is official. Gardner returns on a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. As a corresponding move, the club designated Stephen Tarpley for assignment. Tarpley, 26, pitched to a 6.93 ERA (5.69 FIP) across 24.2 innings in 2019.
The New York Yankees announced today that they have re-signed OF Brett Gardner to a one-year contract for the 2020 season with a club option for 2021.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 11, 2020
To make room on the 40-man roster, LHP Stephen Tarpley has been designated for assignment.