Yankees Announce Brett Gardner's One-Year Deal

Max Goodman

Brett Gardner agreed to a deal in December to return to New York in 2020. Now, the longest-tenured Yankee is officially back on the 40-man roster. 

The Yankees announced Gardner's one-year contract Saturday, an arrangement worth $12.5 million including a club option for 2021.

Gardner, 36, has been a member of the Yankees' organization since he was taken by the Bombers in the third round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. The outfielder made his Major League debut in 2008.

In 2019 -- his 12th big-league campaign -- Gardner continued to produce at a high level. He set career highs in the following offensive departments: home runs (28), RBI (77), slugging percentage (.503) and OPS (.829). Gardy posted a respectable .251 batting average over 141 games, contributing 86 runs, 26 doubles, 7 triples and 10 stolen bases to the Yanks' high-octane offense. 

To free up a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated left-hander Stephen Tarpley for assignment. Tarpley appeared in 21 games this past season, posting a 6.93 ERA in 24.2 innings. The 26-year-old was acquired by New York -- in exchange for right-hander Ivan Nova -- in a 2016 trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Aaron Hicks set to miss the majority of this coming season, Gardner will an all likelihood be the Yankees starting center fielder on Opening Day. His next appearance will be his 1,500th game as a member of the Yankees -- only 17 other players in franchise history have reached that plateau.

Gardner's longevity and ability to avoid injury has been on full display over the past decade. He played in at least 140 games for the seventh consecutive season last year (2013-19) -- Gardner is one of four Major Leaguers to accomplish the feat over that span.

His performance in left field in 2010 earned him a spot on Yankee Maven's All-Decade Team from the 2010s. 

With CC Sabathia's retirement, Gardy will now be the only remaining member of the 2009 World Series champion Yankees. While New York can rely on him to produce statistically, his presence and leadership off the field, with a knack and experience for winning, makes the 36-year-old invaluable. 

As of now, Gardner, Mike Tauchman and Aaron Judge project to be the starting group in the Yankees' outfield. Giancarlo Stanton -- who in all likelihood will see significant playing time at designated hitter, if he can stay healthy -- as well as Clint Frazier and Estevan Florial are the only other members of New York's 40-man roster listed as outfielders. Gardner played a mix of both center field and left field in 2019, distributing 98 and 45 games played at each position respectively. 

The announcement of Gardner's deal comes one day after the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to negotiate with their respective clubs and exchange salary figures. Judge, Gary Sánchez and James Paxton headlined the group of nine Bronx Bombers to ink new one-year contracts for 2020 and thus avoid arbitration hearings. 

With pitchers and catchers set to report in 32 days, the Yankees' roster is officially taking shape. Heading into Spring Training -- with no contract disputes, lingering commitments to free agency or last-minute major roster shakeups -- this team can focus solely on preparing for its division title defense. 

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