Yankees' Updated Lineup, Payroll After Brett Gardner's Reported Contract

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 19, 2021

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner (11) tosses his bat after walking during the third inning in Game 5 of a baseball American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Outfielder Brett Gardner will return to the New York Yankees on a one-year $4 million contract with a player and team option for 2022, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Friday. 

The deal appears carefully constructed to keep New York under the $210 million competitive balance tax with enough money available to make an extra signing or two if needed.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted the Yankees' payroll is now projected at $204 million for Opening Day. He does not expect the team to add any more Major League talent this offseason, but the remaining $6 million available before reaching the luxury tax could help the club at the trade deadline. 

Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1

#Yankees, for luxury tax purposes, now project to about $204M this year. Gives them 7/31 trade deadline wiggle room if they decide to stay under $210M. I would assume Gardner is the last major league pact they will add this spring without meaningful injury.

New York Yankees Projected Lineup

SP: Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia

RP: Zach Britton, Chad Green, Jonathan Loasigia, Darren O'Day, Justin Wilson, Aroldis Chapman

C: Gary Sanchez, Kyle Higashioka, Robinson Chirinos

1B: Luke Voit, Mike Ford, DJ LeMahieu, Derek Deitrich

2B: DJ LeMahieu, Tyler Wade, Derek Deitrich, Gleyber Torres

3B: Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu, Tyler Wade, Derek Dietrich

SS: Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu 

LF: Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Greg Allen

CF: Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Greg Allen

RF: Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Greg Allen, Clint Frazier, Giancarlo Stanton

DH: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier 

Gardner's contract expired at the end of the 2020 campaign, giving him an opportunity to join a team other than the Yankees for the first time in his career. The 2009 World Series champion has spent 13 seasons in the Bronx and figures to be around a while longer. 

During the 60-game 2020 season, Gardner appeared in 49 contests while slashing .223/.354/.392 with five home runs and 15 RBI while mostly hitting from the bottom of the order. 

A return to New York for the 37-year-old gives the Yankees solid depth in the outfield—especially for a team that has found itself relying on back-ups far too often. Injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks over the past few seasons forced New York to use its bench much more than it would like.

Gardner, however, delivered well in that role while providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse as the only remaining member of the Yankees' most recent championship team still on the roster.

If fully healthy, New York figures to enter the season as the team to beat in the American League East.

Returning to the postseason gets a bit easier with Gardner back in the fold.