New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner remains extremely confident about the 2020 season, believing he will play.
Brett Gardner, currently the longest-tenured New York Yankees baseball player, has played himself into consideration for a 2020 roster spot. Gardner is slashing .255/.334/.484 and 17 homers, just four shy of his career-high.
On a team decimated by injuries, Gardner is second behind DJ LeMahieu (4.8) with a 3.4 WAR and leads the team with nine stolen bases. If it were up to Gardner, he would be part of that 2020 roster.
“At this point in the season, I expect to be playing next year. Hopefully, it’s here,” Gardner told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post on Wednesday.
While other star outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have missed significant time this year, Gardner is third on the team in games played with 99. Aside from the raw numbers, Gardner simply provides a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Manager Aaron Boone still had high expectations for Gardner despite his advanced age, saying that, “I have a pretty high expectation of what Gardy is still capable of doing. Obviously the amount of power he has hit for this year, he’s still a really good player,” per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
The outfield has been a logjam for recent years, with Judge becoming a star and both Stanton and Aaron Hicks locked up for the foreseeable future. Estevan Florial, despite recent struggles in Tampa, is just 21-years-old and a highly regarded prospect. Of course, Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier will factor into the equation one way or another. Frazier, currently in Triple-A purgatory, is a strong candidate to be traded this offseason.
In terms of salary, Gardner took a hit this season, earning $7.5 million compared to his 2018 season of $11.5 million. By attempting to stay under the luxury tax, Gardner is an attractive option for the Yankee front office in 2020, as he likely will earn less than $10 million regardless of his numbers when the season ends. Since it appears that Florial will need more seasoning in the minor leagues, Gardner is the perfect stopgap in left field.
In the end, taking a flier on Gardner, a fan favorite and a great teammate by all accounts, is a low-risk, high-reward situation.