The club initially declined Gardner’s $12.5M option, which they had up until midnight to decide upon. They then signed the journeyman to $7.5M for 2019.
The Yankees took an economical approach on the 35-year old’s contract. As part of the $52M contract extension inked by New York to begin in 2015, there a $2M buyout. Picking that up would have cost the Yankees $10.5M, $3M less than what they’re paying now. They don’t call him The Ca$h Man for nothing.
The signing doesn’t indicate any movement of the needle in whether or not the Yankees will sign blockbuster free agent outfielder Bryce Harper this season. While Gardner is coming off of the worst slash line of his career in the majors, .236/.322/.368 in 609 plate appearances, he’s a strong clubhouse presence. He also remains one of the more dominate baserunners in the game and was only caught stealing twice this year. The role that Harper would have and what Gardner already has brought to the team are two different contributes.
The Yankees once again have a solid rotation of outfielders, with Gardner rejoining the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks. If the forever ambulance-bound Jacoby Ellsbury can have a Renaissance, it not only offers the Yankees a powerful trade chip in Clint Frazier, but gives them strong offensive power with or without Harper.