Breaking News: Yankees and Gardner Agree to One-Year Deal
The Yankees Official Twitter announced earlier today that they have agreed with OF Brett Gardner on a One-Year deal for the 2019 season.
The wording of the tweet makes it seem as though the Yankees have declined Gardner’s $12.5M option for the 2019 season, and according to Mark Feinsand, the deal is expected to be worth $7.5M
This solidifies the expected Yankees 2019 Outfield to continue- as currently projected, there is plenty of offseason to go- as it was for the past two years from Left to Right with: Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge.
Here, I will give my quick analysis of the expected $7.5M/1-Year Deal:
The New York Yankees have come to terms with OF Brett Gardner on a one-year contract for 2019. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 31, 2018
1. Gardner’s Great Outfield Variability:
Brett Gardner played 136 games in the outfield this season, 101 of them as the primary left fielder and 34 games in Center Field. He had two separate step-ins as CF, the first at the beginning of the season for 9 games (from 4/1 to 4/12) and the other for 7 games at the end of the season (from 9/23 to 9/30).
Both times were because of an injury to Aaron Hicks, and the fact that Brett Gardner could slide right into the position is a huge thing for the Yankees to have.
Aaron Hicks, since breaking into the MLB in 2015, has consistently had 2 minor injuries per year (except for 2016 where he only had one injury) and having a player be able to fill in without much of a defensive downgrade is great for the Yankees.
Funny enough, Brett Gardner has the same fielding percentage in CF as LF (0.992%) in his career, and has a 1.000% fielding percentage in CF over the last two years (even if only in 448.2 innings).
Brett Gardner will earn $7.5 million in 2019, according to a source. — Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 31, 2018
2. $7.5 Million for Brett Gardner is Objectively Good Move:
Players in the MLB last year accumulated 588.1 WAR and total payroll in the league was $3,689,782,968. Doing the simple math, we can figure out that for each WAR that was earned, teams spent $6,275,141.
Brett Gardner provided 2.8 WAR for the 2018 Yankees (even given his second half struggles), which would turn out to be about $17,570,395 of value for the year.
As long as Gardner provides 1.2 WAR this year, the deal is worth it.
(Also: these calculations should be pretty accurate and not lowered in value because the rookie contracts should be outweighed by the overpay contracts: i.e. Chris Davis)
3. 4th Outfielder?
Without a doubt in my mind, Brett Gardner would be the most valuable 4th outfielder in baseball for the 2019 season.
Typically, the 4th Outfield type is a veteran player who had a limited market during free agency, and was looking to stick in the majors as his career winds down. While Brett Gardner fits this mold, he is also a player who has defied the odds a bit with his career winding down and has been able to keep his main tool (speed) as a consistent threat year-in and year-out.
When looking at the other 4th OF in the big leagues too, you could see how if Gardner is put into that position (either as a 3.5 OF with splitting time with Giancarlo Stanton and/or the potential of Clint Frazier or as the 4th OF if the Yankees do sign Bryce Harper/another free agent) that he would still be a formidable foe.
The only 4th OF in the MLB to eclipse 1.5 WAR last year was Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who by all accounts completely defied the odds and had an insane first half of the season (en route to a starting All-Star appearance). Only 4 others produced 1 WAR or above (Ryan Braun, Jake Marisnick, David Dahl, and Charlie Culberson), and it is only fair to expect Brett Gardner to produce at this clip or better next season.
I’m very happy the Yankees have decided to make this move quick. Unlike the battles with CC Sabathia last year- Was he going to leave NY? The Blue Jays/Angels/etc. may be interested- they have decided to prevent other teams from potentially increasing his price or losing a very solid clubhouse presence for this young team.
Additionally, this does not at all mean the Yankees won’t be interested in Bryce Harper. While a polarizing topic in baseball circles, he is one of a very few amount of generational talents and keeping Gardner on this very reasonable salary should not prevent them from throwing their hat into the ring.