The New York Yankees Could Say Goodbye to Their $78 Million Leader

Brett Gardner has been a mainstay for the New York Yankees for over a decade.

Gardner arrived in the big leagues when Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were still in their primes. Now, Gardner is the longest-tenured member of the Yankees and has served as the team’s much-needed veteran soul.

Gardner’s time in the Bronx could be coming to an end. The New York Yankees and Gardner may be parting ways in the coming weeks.

Brett Gardner played 13 seasons for the New York Yankees

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Brett Gardner had an incredible path to the major leagues.

Gardner walked onto the College of Charleston baseball team in 2001 and became a three-year starter for the Cougars. The New York Yankees drafted Gardner in the third round of the 2005 MLB draft and promoted him to the majors three years later.

Although he only hit .228 in 42 games as a rookie, Gardner earned a full-time job on the Yankees’ 25-man roster in 2009.

A durable outfielder and fiery leader, Gardner hit .259 with 129 home runs, 539 RBIs, and 270 stolen bases in his 13 seasons with the Yankees. Gardner made the 2015 All-Star Game and won the Gold Glove Award a year later.

In 67 career playoff games, Gardner hit .214 with three home runs and 19 RBIs.

Gardner may have played his final game in New York

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The Brett Gardner era could be over in New York.

In the buildup to free agency, the New York Yankees declined Gardner’s 2021 option, which would have paid the former All-Star $10 million next season.

The Yankees could opt to bring Gardner back for next year. Gardner turned 37 in August, however, and only hit .223 across the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Even if the injury-plagued Giancarlo Stanton stays at designated hitter, the Yankees have an outfield problem entering next year. Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge, despite their frequent inconsistency and injuries, both have earned starting roles going forward.

Clint Frazier, the oft-criticized reserve outfielder, hit .268 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs last season. Fraizer totaled 1.5 Wins Above Replacement and hit .286 with a solo home run in the playoffs.

Even if the Yankees trade Frazier, there isn’t much space left for Gardner on the 2021 Yankees.

Where could Brett Gardner go if the Yankees don’t bring him back?

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According to Spotrac, Brett Gardner has earned over $78 million in his career. Baseball-Reference valued Gardner’s total earnings at a little over $82 million.

Regardless, Gardner has made plenty of money in the majors. If Gardner sees his bank account grow more next season, it may come from another team not named the New York Yankees.

The Miami Marlins make sense as a possible fit for Gardner. Yankees great Derek Jeter, who played alongside Gardner in New York from 2008-14, owns the Marlins.

Gardner’s longtime manager, Joe Girardi, currently manages the Philadelphia Phillies. Would Girardi consider adding Gardner as a backup outfielder?

If the New York Mets strike out on George Springer, Gardner would obviously be a significant drop-off. But Gardner is familiar with New York and he’d be a great character fit for the Mets.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference. Contract figures courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Spotrac.