The Yankees declined Brett Gardner’s option for next season. It’s time for the Pinstripers to finally say goodbye to the veteran outfielder.
Recently, the Yankees declined a $10 million dollar option on Brett Gardner, making him a free agent. Gardner has had a very solid 12-plus year MLB career, hitting a career .259 with a .343 on-base percentage. He also hit 129 home runs in his career, too. However, Gardner is the ripe old age of 37, and it’s finally time for the Yankees to cut bait with their veteran outfielder.
Production is Decreasing and Clint Frazier’s on Deck
In 2020, Gardner hit .223 with a .354 OBP. Also, Gardner had a .332 wOBA and a 110 wRC+, making him pretty much an average hitter. Now, these numbers aren’t bad, but you could find a lot better, just look elsewhere in the Yankees’ dugout.
Clint Frazier, who got a shot to play after injuries to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton wrecked the outfield, put up very impressive numbers in this shortened season. His wRC+ was a very-strong 149 with a WOBA of .388. He only hit .267, which isn’t great, of course, but what was great was his on-base percentage, sitting at a dominant mark of .394. Furthermore, Frazier also doubled Gardner’s fWar (1.3 to 0.6) while playing 10 fewer games than Gardner (49 to 39). Lastly, Frazier’s biggest bugaboo last year was his defense, but the 26-year-old turned it around in ’20, as he’s now nominated for a gold glove award.
The Yankees have Bigger Fish to Fry
The Yankees have free agents not only named Brett Gardner, as James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, D.J. LeMahieu, and, most recently, Tommy Kahnle. Few would argue that those four free agents are more valuable to the team than Gardner, especially LeMahieu, who hit .364 with a .421 OBP. He hit 10 home runs and had an fWar of 2.5.
With a lack of fans in the stands this season, the owners don’t have as much money as they normally would in order to splurge on free agents. This goes the same for the Yankees, who may not be as deep in their pockets this winter. I’m sure many would agree, and hopefully, the Yankees do, too, that it might be time to let one of their lesser valuable players walk away and reorganize that money to spend it towards a more prolific producer, like LeMahieu, Paxton, Tanaka, etc.
There’s no doubt, that, in the grand scheme of things, Gardner has been a very solid Yankee and has had a very nice career. Unfortunately, age has caught up to the veteran, and with that, his production has decreased, too. I think it’s best for the Yankees to move on from Gardy this Winter and perhaps start a new chapter in the outfield with Frazier or another free agent.