The Yankees have a lot of work to do to revamp their roster this winter, but bringing Brett Gardner back into the fold is a smart move by Brian Cashman.
Re-signing Brett Gardner won’t qualify as the Yankees’ sexiest move of the offseason, but it could be one of the franchise’s most productive transactions. Bringing the veteran outfielder back from another year in the Bronx would go a long way towards stabilizing Aaron Boone’s outfield.
According to Jon Heyman, the two parties are already actively engaged in discussions about bringing Gardner back for one more season in pinstripes. That news shouldn’t really surprise any Yankees fans. As soon as news broke that Aaron Hicks would miss somewhere between eight and ten months due to Tommy John surgery it left the franchise with a giant hole in center field.
In a perfect world, top prospect Estevan Florial would have progressed sufficiently in the minors last season to join the big league club on Opening Day in 2020. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his season to the point where he does not appear to have a realistic chance to play in the majors next season.
That leaves free agency as the only viable option for Brian Cashman and his front office to utilize to fill the team’s void in center field. Ironically, Gardner rates as the best center fielder available on the open market despite heading into his age 36 season. That, coupled with his long tenure with the club makes bringing him back a very appealing option for the Yankees.
Of course, none of this would matter if Gardner’s play had shown signs of slippage in 2019. The reality is he had one of his best offensive seasons as a professional. In particular, the adjustment of his launch angle at the plate allowed him to significantly improve his power output. The Yankees might not expect him to hit 28 home runs again in 2020, but his emergence as a left-handed bat with pop only adds to his value for the organization.
In the end, look for Gardner to sign another short-term deal to prolong his time with the Yankees. The original plan wasn’t for him to start Opening Day in center field, but it’s a pragmatic solution for a team that lacks an ideal option.