(Brett Gardner (center) during batting practice this past season – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Yankees are bringing back their longest-tenured player, outfielder Brett Gardner, on a one-year contract for the 2019 season after he declined the 2019 club option on his previous contract.
Gardner, 35, made his Major League debut in 2008 after he was drafted by the Yankees in the third round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
He is part of an exclusive club in Yankees history, one of only five players drafted by the Yankees to collect at least 1,000 hits with the club. The other four are Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.
Gardner had a good season in 2018, as he batted .236 (125-for-530) with 95 runs, 20 doubles, 7 triples, 12 home runs, 45 runs batted in, 65 walks, 16 stolen bases and a .322 on-base percentage in 140 games, with 101 starts in left field and 29 in center field. His 16 steals in 18 attempts (88.9%) was the third-highest success rate in the American League (min: 15 attempts).
Gardner’s playing time went down considerably after the Yankees acquired Andrew McCutchen from San Francisco in late August and inserted him into the leadoff spot. They both were in the Yankees outfield in their playoff series with the Red Sox.
In 1,358 career games over 11 Major League seasons (2008-18), Gardner owns a .261 (1,232-for-4,729) batting average with 790 runs, 204 doubles, 61 triples, 96 home runs, 450 runs batted in, 561 walks and a .344 on-base percentage. Gardner has averaged 4.24 pitches seen per plate appearance over the course of his career (min: 3,000 PA), trailing only Mike Trout (4.27) and Matt Carpenter (4.25) among all active players who played in the Majors last season.
Gardner’s 257 career stolen bases rank third on the Yankees’ all-time list, trailing only Derek Jeter (358) and Rickey Henderson (326).
One of the reasons the Yankees brought Gardner back is because he is a consummate professional and a leader in the clubhouse.
In both 2016 and 2017, Gardner was the Yankees’ nominee for Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award.