3 replacements for Brett Gardner if his team option isn’t picked up

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The Yankees may not pick up Brett Gardner’s option, which means they’ll have to find another outfielder.

With what feels like self-imposed budgetary restrictions on the way that will dictate how the New York Yankees operate this offseason, we have to talk about the potential departure of Brett Gardner, who has a $10 million team option (with a $2.5 million buyout) for the 2021 campaign.

Fans for certain want the veteran back in the outfield mix next year, but at this point it feels like nothing is guaranteed. And if that’s the case, then the Yankees could very well buy him out and then spend another $3-$5 million on another outfielder to save some dough. Either that, or they could get their hands on somebody who is a little bit pricier on a multi-year deal but will move the needle for the lineup.

If this is the route general manager Brian Cashman and Co. opt to go, here are some intriguing options for the Yankees to consider when free agency begins.

Kevin Pillar #11 of the Colorado Rockies (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Kevin Pillar #11 of the Colorado Rockies (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

3. Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar could be a great cost-effective option for the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox signed Kevin Pillar this past offseason and Yankees fans were positive he was going to immediately turn into an immediate thorn in our side and haunt New York by tracking down fly ball after fly ball in the gap and at the warning track. But instead, Boston went ahead and traded Pillar to the Colorado Rockies ahead of the deadline.

And he enjoyed a solid year, hitting .288 with a .798 OPS across 54 games. Though his WAR didn’t reflect anything of note, it’s clear Pillar can still play well on both sides of the ball. He’s a reliable defender and a contact bat, and there’s no doubt he’ll come at a cheap price after landing a one-year, $4.25 million deal for the 2020 season.

Though Pillar is primarily a center fielder and has much less experience in the corner spots, he would be a defensive upgrade over Gardner and help put the ball in play at the bottom of the lineup. We’d much rather have Gardner, but if the Yankees are bargain hunting, Pillar could be among those at the top of their wish list.