With the New York Yankees inking Brett Gardner to a one-year deal, it has become clear that he means something special to this organization.
He may be a 36-year-old ancient relic patrolling an outfield that consists of young superstars. He may be a career .260 hitter for the Yankees. But he’s also the last of his kind, and that deserves a hell of a lot of respect from fans and media alike.
As it stands, Gardner is the only remaining player from the World Series championship roster. And, from the looks of it, Gardner will both start and finish out his career in the same place, something that is unheard of as of late.
Some of the primary members of the Core Four spent their entire careers with the Yankees. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada never dreamed of seeking out other teams and the Yankees were more than willing to oblige.
But over recent years, Yankees players that served as key components to their teams chose to seek opportunities elsewhere. These decisions were made by the players, but also the organization, willing to let them walk. Hideki Matsui comes to mind. The Yankees are dealing with something similar with Dellin Betances.
The idea of “lifer” with a certain team is highly unlikely at this stage in the game. Unless, of course, you are of the highest quality caliber of player, i.e. Mike Trout. With the Yankees, it hasn’t happened in a long time.
And now, Brett Gardner will finish his career in the Bronx. That’s what Gardner wants and clearly the New York Yankees are willing to keep his veteran leadership, despite his age not allowing him to keep up All-Star-type defensive outfield skills.
This is a dying art. Sure, you can argue that Aaron Judge should be a Yankee for life. Yet, he just started his career and things can certainly change from the first game to his very last. The truth of the matter is a player like Gardner, who will stay put for his entire career, is incredibly hard to come by. Not only that, but it deserves a whole lot of respect across the entire sport.
This franchise is also known for tossing players aside when they no longer suit their goal of reaching a championship. The fact that a player like Gardner, who has only one All-Star appearance under his belt, and has been consistent but not spectacular throughout his playing career, is still there from day one is just incredible.
Gardner is no Trout. He’s also no Jeter, Rivera or Posada. Those are the facts. But what he does represent is one of the very few who will remain a Yankee for life, whether you like it or not.
No. 11 brings a lot of special skills to the table, besides his incredible skill in tracking down every single impossible fly ball in the outfield. He has proven he’s a leader and an integral part of the organization.
A Yankee for life. Did we draw that up when he first came up in 2008? Not likely, but Brett Gardner has undoubtedly earned his pinstripes.