The New York Yankees and free agent outfielder Brett Gardner have agreed to a deal, reports Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The deal is pending a physical and is for one year and $4 million, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Gardner, 37, has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Yankees’ organization. He was drafted by them in the third round out of College of Charleston in 2005 and all 13 years of his MLB career have come in the pinstripes.
Last season, Gardner hit .223/.354/.392 (an OBP-heavy 108 OPS+) with five homers and 15 RBI. It’s hard telling how the pandemic affected any individual player and it was an abbreviated season, so looking back at 2019 — when Gardner hit .251/.325/.503 with 28 homers — might be more telling when it comes to his skillset these days.
The deal comes just in the nick of time for Gardner. The Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to camp on Thursday and he should be able to make it time to join the position players when they officially report on Sunday.
At this point, it does not appear Gardner will be a regular starter. The Yankees already announced Clint Frazier is set to be their starting left fielder. Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge hold down center field and right field, respectively, with Giancarlo Stanton slated for everyday designated hitter duty.
The move does line Gardner up as the fourth outfielder. Even at his age, Gardner is a very nice depth piece. We’ve seen plenty of Yankees injuries these last few years, so the added depth is certainly something the Yankees can use.
It’s also possible Gardner could see time as a pinch runner. He doesn’t fly like he used to, but he was still in the 83rd percentile in baseball in sprint speed last season.