Yankees: Brett Gardner will continue to be valuable asset in 2020
By Derek McAdam
The 2019 season was a particularly peculiar season for 36-year-old Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. His $12.5 million option was declined and he was signed for $5 million less at $7.5 million.
Little did he know he would be considered a bargain even if the Yankees picked up his option.
He would go on to play in 141 games for the Yankees after injuries to Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Tauchman, 98 of which would be played in center field. Even though he only committed one error in the outfield the entire season, most of his value came at the plate.
The Yankees lost two big left-handed bats for a good chunk of the season with Hicks’ injuries and Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery. Gardner has never been known to have power and before the 2019 season had a career-high of 21 home runs. Not only did he set a new career-high with 28 home runs, but he also set new career-highs in RBI with 74 and OPS with .829.
Although he may not be able to completely duplicate his stats from the 2019 season, Gardner will still find himself extremely important to a successful Yankee team for 2020.
Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner can still contribute
Gregorius left New York for Philadelphia during the off-season and Hicks is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Besides Tauchman and Mike Ford, the Yankees do not have many options for left-handed bats in the lineup. Gardner will provide more options for Aaron Boone to space out his lefties in the lineup. Once Hicks comes back from rehab, Boone may have three or even four left-handed bats in the lineup.
To begin the season, Gardner will see himself playing center field every day if Hicks is not ready to return. Once Hicks returns, Gardner may shift to left field or play center field once or twice a week.
Even if Boone cannot find options for Gardner in the field once Hicks returns, he will still be a crucial piece in the locker room. After C.C. Sabathia’s retirement, Gardner remains the only current Yankee that was a part of the 2009 World Series team and is also the current longest-tenured Yankee. Veteran leadership is hard to come by, especially for the bargain that Brian Cashman was able to retain him for.
No matter how many games the Yankees end up playing in 2020, Gardner will continue to make his presence known throughout the organization and fans.