SAN DIEGO – Outfielder Brett Gardner, the longest-serving Yankee and now the only survivor of his last championship season in 2009, is returning to his 13th major league season with the team. The deal, which both sides wanted, was closed on Thursday, and Gardner agreed to a one-year contract that guarantees him $ 12.5 million.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the business who requested anonymity, Gardner will earn $ 8 million salary plus $ 2 million signing bonus next season as of yet to be announced. The deal also includes a $ 10 million option for the 2021 season with a $ 2.5 million buyout.
Gardner, 36, returned to the organization for the 16th time, was drafted by the Yankees in 2005, reached the majors in 2008, won a World Series ring the following season and has been a team leader for many years. With the retirement of Krug C.C. Sabathia, who also played with the Yankees in 2009, will continue to play an important leadership role in the clubhouse.
Not that he won't be valuable on the field either: he's a left-handed player in a full-right lineup and a capable midfielder, a position the Yankees need while Aaron Hicks is recovering from the Tommy John operation that may be him leave outside until the second half of the season.
"The constant that it plays a big role in field organization and production," said Yankees Deputy Director General Michael Fishman, on Thursday, the last day of baseball's annual winter gatherings.
Gardner signed another $ 9.5 million guarantee with the Yankees before the 2019 season, which meant a lot at the time for a player who had had the worst season of his career (average 0.236 and 0.690 based plus slugging percentage) the lowest mark since its 42-game rookie campaign in 2008). But the Yankees appreciated Gardner and he rewarded their belief with the best season of his career: .251 with a career high of .829 O.P.S.
The biggest jump was Gardner's home run production: he smashed 28 home runs and blew his previous high at seven. How many players in baseball (and with the advantage of Gardner changed his approach to the plate to hit more balls in the air. His jump from 8.4 degrees in the average starting angle in 2018 to 13.6 degrees in 2019 was one of the largest increases in the major leagues.
Gardner returns to a team that may be the earliest 2020 World Series favorite. To date, the Yankees have raised nearly $ 355 million in new commitments this season, including Ace Gerrit Cole, closer Aroldis Chapman and Gardner.
The Yankees had two seasoned players leave through a free agency this winter: backup catcher Austin Romine, who made a little over $ 4 million one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, and shortstop Didi Gregorius, who agreed This week, the Philadelphia Phillies signed a one-year contract for $ 14 million.
The move brought Gregorius back together with Joe Girardi, the former Yankees manager who was hired by the Phillies for the same position in October. The Yankees are expected to use Infielder Gleyber Torres, a younger and better batsman than Gregorius, as the first short stop next season.