The Tuesday Discussion: What's Going on With Gardy?
This week we asked our writers the following:
We just learned that Brett Gardner turned down $6M to play for the Blue Jays this year. What do you believe his plan is or was for 2022? Was he holding out for more money? Does he have a secret deal with the Yankees? Is it something else? Do you see him returning to the Yankees?
What's the story with Brett Gardner?
Here are their replies:
James Vlietstra - Prior to the 2021 season he signed a 2 year contract. He was signed for 2022. He chose to decline the second year option, making him a free agent.
Per their website, including Stanton, they currently have 8 outfielders on their 40 man roster. Meaning, quite honestly that they have moved on.
I personally believe that he was a tremendous Yankees player and down the road it is possible that they honor him with a plaque. However, if he intends to put on a Major League uniform on again, it will likely have his name on the back of it.
Mike Whiteman - I have no claim to be inside Brett Gardner's thinking, but I've always thought that being a Yankee was of utmost importance to him. So important, that he is willing to wait for an opportunity with the Yankees and if no chance comes up, he would be content to retire having only worn the Pinstripes. What a career it has been! Fan favorite, World Series ring in 2009, All-Star in 2015, Gold Glove in 2016, almost $83 million in lifetime salary.
*** Paul Semendinger - I think that Brett Gardner wants to remain a career Yankee and that he is demonstrating that by turning down millions. That is amazing.
If Aaron Hicks gets hurt, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Gardy return. I assume he's staying in shape just waiting for his chance. Stranger things have happened.
Ed Botti - Gardner has played his entire career with the Yankees since being drafted in the third round by the Yanks is 2005. A career slash line of 256/.342/.398 in 5,737 at-bats. 139 home runs, 578 RBI, 274 stolen bases, and a .740 OPS since making the team back in 2008.
He played the outfield and ran the bases very well.
A World Series champion. An All Star. A Gold Glove winner.
Since the Yankees didn’t have a roster spot for the 38 year old Gardner this spring, there was speculation if he would ever consider joining another team via free agency. The Blue Jays reportedly offered Brett a one-year, $6 million dollar deal after the lockout ended. Gardy turned them down. It makes sense for the Blue Jays to have interest in him, after all he has a lifetime.256/.330/.455 slash line in Toronto, and always plays well against them, hitting to a .784 OPS through 196 games with 25 home runs and 78 RBI, the most against any team he has ever played against. The Atlanta Braves also measured his interest with their outfield core being hit hard by injuries. It has been reported that he turned them down as well.
He has made a lot of money since 2005.
It sounds to me that Brett would rather retire than play for any other team. He would rather go out a proud Yankee!
Good for him.
Chris O'Connor - I think that this is one-sided: Brett Gardner would like to return to play for the Yankees this year, but the Yankees do not have interest. They just really do not have a need for him right now, for a few reasons. They have Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks as their four outfielders. Even if injuries strike, they have some organizational depth (Ender Inciarte, Estevan Florial, Tim Locastro) to fill in. Since the start of last season, they have also diversified their lineup with more lefties in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. And while Gardy's speed and athleticism is always a plus, the Yankees have looked far more dynamic this season compared to last. From the outside, it seems like Gardy wants to play but only for the Yankees, which is why he is currently out of baseball. Barring something unforeseen, I do not see Gardy returning to the Yankees.
Cary Greene - Brett Gardner would be a very good fit on this year's roster, he provides excellent outfield defense and has always been the kind of hitter that grinds through at-bats and works long into the count.
Unfortunately, he's missed Spring Training completely and the game of baseball is hard enough these days, I can't imagine anyone being able to just step in and start playing. Brett knows this and so do the Yankees, so if Brian Cashman were to attempt to bring him back at some point this season, the situation would necessitate time at the minor league site and then likely a stint with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton Rail-Riders.
Based on the current roster crunch and the combination of Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks both playing fairly elite defense and compounded by the versatility of Marwin Gonzalez, who plays both corner outfield spots at a pretty solid level and also happens to be a very good utility infielder who can even handle playing shortstop semi-regularly, presently the 2022 Yankees don't appear to have room on the roster for Brett Gardner. Gonzalez is also a switch-hitter, who has plenty of pop in his bat, which makes him an extremely versatile player who is well suited to a bench role on what is an outstanding Yankees team.
"Gardy" as he is affectionately known by Yankee fans, probably wanted to finish his career in pinstripes and this accounts for him electing not to accept the Blue Jays $6 million offer he received this offseason. Gardner has a net worth of $25 million so financially, it may not have been worth it to disrupt his routine and change all that he's ever known, simply to capitalize on what was a fairly solid Toronto offer.
It's also no secret that there is a tremendous amount of loyalty towards Gardner from Hal Steinbrenner who has openly noted his desire to take care of Yankee players who have had long careers with the franchise. Therein lies the sticky widget regarding this situation. I think there is an agreement in place between the Yankees and Gardner because Cashman obviously knows the chances of Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton all staying healthy for a full season is unlikely, based on the sorted injury histories of each player.
Gardner has probably been asked to stay ready by the Yankees, in case they need to call his number and that may be fine with Gardner. This way, if the opportunity arises, he'll spring into action and if not, he'll enjoy life away from baseball and get a chance to do a bunch of things he hasn't been able to do for many years now.
Andy Singer - I think that it's really as simple as it seems: at this point in his life/career, Brett Gardner only wants to play Major League Baseball on his own terms, which is wearing #11 as a New York Yankee. It is as laudable as anything we see in modern professional sports that Brett Gardner wants to use the limited power he has as a veteran not to maximize his profit, but to maintain his legacy as a one-team-player. Unfortunately, as much as I'm sure the Yankee front office respects everything that Brett Gardner has meant to the Yankees, they also recognize that it's time to move in a more youthful direction, as long as everyone stays healthy.
It would not shock me in the slightest to see Gardner return in the event that an injury occurs in the outfield. Should it appear that Tim Locastro is going to be out closer to 6 months than 6 weeks, I think the final roster spot could very well be Gardy's. I'm sure he's in shape, and I'm sure he'd be ready if the Yankees come calling. Much as I recognize that injuries are bad, I hope Gardy gets a better send-off than the one he got last season.