MLB Rumors: Latest on Brett Gardner's Options with Yankees, Blue Jays and Braves

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 03: Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on October 03, 2021 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner reportedly turned down offers from multiple teams since the end of the 2021 season.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Gardner declined a one-year, $6 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jays after the MLB lockout and did not pursue an opportunity with the Atlanta Braves when they expressed interest.

The New York Yankees are the only team Gardner has played for, and Rosenthal noted it was "likely" they are the only team with which he would sign.

Since the Yankees appear to have moved on, however, the 38-year-old's career may be over.

Gardner made his MLB debut in 2008 and spent 14 seasons with the Yankees, becoming one of the most beloved players of the post-dynasty era.

While Gardner was largely viewed as a hard-nosed role player, he wasn't without individual accolades, earning one All-Star nod and one Gold Glove Award.

The South Carolina native was also part of the Yankees' World Series championship team in 2009, and after CC Sabathia retired in 2019, Gardner was the only player from that club still on the roster.

Gardner slashed .256/.342/.398 and registered 139 home runs, 578 RBI, 943 runs and 274 stolen bases in 1,688 regular-season games.

He ranks third on the Bronx Bombers' all-time steals list and eighth on the team's triples list with 73.

Over the past few years, the expectation was for Gardner to be more of a fourth outfielder than a full-time starter, but he still got regular at-bats.

Last season, Gardner appeared in 140 games and hit .222 with 10 home runs, 39 RBI, 47 runs and four steals.

While Gardner had back-to-back seasons with well over 40 steals in 2010 and 2011, he ran less later in his career and upped his power. In fact, he is only a few years removed from setting career highs with 28 homers and 74 RBI in 2019.

There was some thought New York would bring Gardner back again this season, but room was scarce since Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are the team's top four outfielders.

Additionally, the Yanks have a utility player in Marwin Gonzalez who can play the corner outfield spots, and they have a speedy extra outfielder in Tim Locastro.

There is also little incentive for the Yankees to sign Gardner now, as they are riding a hot streak and own the best record in Major League Baseball at 23-8.

That could change if injury issues crop up during the season, but there is no indication New York is looking to bring Gardner back into the fold.

Regardless of what the future holds for Gardner, he will always be viewed as a fan favorite among Yankees supporters and could make sense as a coach down the line if he wants to pursue that line of work.