MLB free-agent rumors: Yankees and Brett Gardner interested in keeping the band together

Sporting News

Regardless of how hot the Hot Stove Season actually is this year — it’s been lukewarm, at best, the past few offseasons — Sporting News will have you covered with all the trade rumors and free-agent rumblings you can handle.

Rumor: The Yankees could bring back free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner

Source: Jon Heyman, MLB Network

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Need to know: Gardner, who turned 36 in August, has been with the club since roughly the end of Mickey Mantle’s tenure in the Bronx, or at least it feels that way. Really, though, he and CC Sabathia were the only members of the 2019 Yankees who were part of the club’s most recent World Series title, in 2009, and Sabathia just retired. Gardner hasn’t been shy about staying with the only franchise he’s known. The Yankees drafted him in the third round of the 2005 draft and he made his big-league debut three years later. In those early days, he was a speedy outfielder — he led the AL with 49 stolen bases in 2011 — without much power, but now it’s kind of the other way around. Gardner hit a career-high 28 homers in 2019, which paired nicely with a career-best .829 OPS.

And the path to return to the Bronx seems pretty clear. Center fielder Aaron Hicks, who is on a long-term deal with the club, just had Tommy John surgery, so he’s out for an extended period. Bringing back Gardner on a short-term deal (two years, max) makes a lot of sense, and not just because of the Hicks situation. Giancarlo Stanton, another Yankee on a long-term deal, dealt with severe hamstring issues in 2019, so having Gardner available to move Stanton to DH from time to time seems like a smart idea.

Could this happen: Definitely. No team in baseball loves the idea of experienced backups/safety nets more than the Yankees. Also, someone needs to be around to thump the dugout roof when a rally needs to start.

Potential domino effect: Bringing Gardner back might make it easier for Brian Cashman to trade Clint Frazier, who has been bandied about in trade rumors for quite a while now.

MORE: CC Sabathia trying to sell Gerrit Cole on Yankees

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