Yankees Rumors: Brett Gardner Agrees to 1-Year, $12.5M Contract After Cole Deal

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner rounds third base on his way to score against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning of Game 1 of an American League Division Series baseball game, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The New York Yankees and free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner reportedly reached an agreement Thursday on a one-year, $12.5 million contract with a club option for a second season at $10 million.

George A. King III of the New York Post first reported the financial details. ESPN's Jeff Passan confirmed the signing.

Gardner has spent his entire career with the Yankees, who selected him in the third round of the 2005 MLB draft. He arrived in the big leagues in 2008 after a quick journey through the minors.

The 36-year-old South Carolina native has remained a productive player for the Yanks across the past 12 seasons despite being forced to evolve his approach.

He arrived in New York as a speedster who made his greatest impacts in the field and on the basepaths. His first four MLB seasons featured 135 stolen bases, 77 defensive runs saved (via FanGraphs) and just 15 home runs.

Gardner doesn't boast the same blazing speed anymore, but he's managed to morph into a serious power threat. He's coming off a 2019 campaign where he posted career-high totals in both OPS (.829) and home runs (28) as his steals dropped to a career-low level (10).

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The long-term success with one of the most storied franchises in sports has even caught the former College of Charleston standout by surprise.

"I'll tell you a funny thing," Gardner told reporters in October. "I have lived in 13 or 14 different places in Tampa for spring training every year. I never got a place there. I had no way of knowing I would be around this long."

Although it's hard to imagine the 2015 All-Star selection wearing a uniform other than Yankee pinstripes, the possibility was raised as the front office first focused on other free-agent pursuits. They landed the biggest catch of all, starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, late Tuesday and quickly shifted focus back to Gardy.

He should slide right back in as the club's primary option in center field with the Yankees set to open 2020 as the World Series favorite.