It’s not a secret that the New York Yankees place a high value on Brett Gardner. They’ve had nothing but nice things to say about the center fielder over the seasons and have acknowledged time and time again that they wouldn’t trade Gardner for just anyone. But with Gardner a free agent next season, should the Yankees consider signing Gardner to an extension before the 2014 season ends?
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes they should. With Gardner entering the final year of arbitration, the Yankees would lose team control following the 2014 season. MLBTradeRumor predicts Gardner would make at least $4 Million in his final year of arbitration but Union officials believe Gardner would earn more than $4 Million. At a pivotal point in his career, the Yankees should attempt to lock Gardner up in a multi-year contract.
The free agent market for outfielders next offseason will be weak and it seems Gardner would be one of the top free agents in the outfield market. With both Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki free agents in 2014, the Yankees would have to fill a hole in one of their outfield positions. Having Gardner locked up would mean the Yankees wouldn’t have to exert their time in finding an outfielder.
Now I know that the Yankees don’t normally do extensions in the middle of a current contract, but the Yankees were willing to attempt an extension with Robinson Cano last season. No reason the Yankees can’t attempt to do the same in this situation.
With the 2013 offseason dwindling down, the Yankees could do an abundance of things with Gardner; they could trade him (though it’s highly unlikely), they could let him go after this year or they could re-sign him. If I’m the Yankees–I’d choose the third option and I’d do it as quickly as possible. And if the Yankees actually do sign Gardner to an extension–I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.