The Yankees had until midnight on Wednesday to decide whether or not to pick up veteran OF Brett Gardner's option for 2019. And after declining the option, the team announced they reached a new one-year deal to keep him in pinstripes once again next season.
According to MLB.com's Marc Feinsand, Gardner will earn $7.5 million next season. The $2 million buyout that was part of his contract will be reflected on the Yankees' 2018 payroll, which doesn't affect their status of staying under the luxury tax threshold.
The 35-year Gardner hit .236/.322/.368 with 12 homers, 20 doubles, and seven triples in 140 games (530 at-bats) in 2018, though he continued to be a positive in the field as he was worth 10 DRS (defensive runs saved) in 1,185 innings in the outfield.
While his defense is still strong, the offensive decline for Gardner is hard to ignore. As is the presence of Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton. There's also Clint Frazier. And the above players, combined with Gardner's offensive decline, will likely make him a bench player in 2019.
Gardner is currently third on the Yankees' all-time list for stolen bases, trailing only Rickey Henderson (326) and Derek Jeter (358).
A renegotiated deal between Gardner and the Yankees is hardly surprising.
First, the Yankees still believe that Gardner's defensive abilities are elite and his presence in the clubhouse has always been praised by his teammates and coaching staff. While he struggled offensively in 2018, Gardner being used as a fourth outfielder in order to provide rest in left or center field could aid his numbers, should the club utilize him in situations suitable to his strengths.
Re-signing Gardner seemingly strengthens SNY's Andy Martino's report from Monday that the Yankees believe Bryce Harper is not a fit in their outfield. However, the Yankees could ultimately take several routes to create roster space with Gardner aboard and there is plenty of time to do so.
Regardless, Gardner is a backup outfielder now, one that can make a difference on the field in sporadic appearances and in the clubhouse on a daily basis.