Are the Yankees really entering the 2021 season without Brett Gardner?
Brett Gardner said from the beginning that he didn’t want his Yankee Stadium departure to come in front of empty seats.
And the Yankees said from the beginning that they do not really seem to care.
The MLB beat writers who’ve been beating the drum of Gardner’s inevitable return have now begun pivoting swiftly.
And if that doesn’t tell you something about the Yankees’ plans, I’m not sure what will.
National baseball writers were the last bastion of people assuring the masses that Gardner would ultimately return because the fit just “made sense,” even as the Yankees were silently screaming for weeks that there was still a gulf between the two parties during negotiations.
Those conversations, of course, may or may not have been nonexistent.
Now, following the Justin Wilson addition, even Ken Rosenthal is shifting gears, using an appearance on MLB Network on Tuesday to nearly eliminate Gardner from the conversation.
Just a few days after we were all told the Jay Bruce deal in no way affected the Gardner negotiations, the fit is now “hard to see”.
Clearly, someone from the Yankees’ side of things stepped in to tell Rosenthal and company the real score here.
In jettisoning Gardner, the Yankees will surely lose plenty of effective little eccentricities that don’t show up in a box score, and though it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, since we’d all like Clint Frazier to encounter the path of least resistance to playing time, Gardner’s versatility and drive are both big advantages for the furthest reaches of this Yankees roster.
Of course, negotiations are a two-way street. And the demands we’ve heard from Gardner’s camp far exceed anything the Yankees could, or should, be willing to do right now. On the one hand, it’s hard to shake the fact that the Yanks didn’t give their aging rock much credence in negotiations, at least in the same way the Nationals did for Ryan Zimmerman.
On the other hand, though, it’s nearly impossible to envision Gardner accepting a million-dollar check like Zim and calling it a day.
The Yankees will no doubt finagle Justin Wilson’s deal and announce it in a few days, once Luis Severino is eligible to be placed on the 60-day IL, freeing up an additional 40-man spot.
Knowing his AAV might be below $3 million in 2021 thanks to some creative accounting, Rosenthal and the rest of the world is really telling Yankees Universe that Brett Gardner couldn’t fit for $3 million himself, leaving another $4-5 million worth of wiggle room?
Yes. They are really telling you that.
And after telling you that for months on end, you shouldn’t be shocked when the Yankee lifer’s departure comes to fruition soon.