Brett Gardner realizes his time with the Yankees could be coming to an end after this season, but the 34-year-old veteran outfielder hopes he won’t have to change uniforms in 2019.
According to NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty, Gardner said he would like to play two or three more big league seasons after this one. And if the Yankees aren’t interested in retaining him this offseason, he would still consider joining a different team, even though he “wouldn’t really want to play anywhere else.”
“So far, this year’s gone well for me,” Gardner said. “I’ve stayed healthy and that’s just the name of the game. As long as I can stay healthy and feel like I can still compete and help the team, I want to continue to play. I don’t really put a whole lot of thought into it. Just try and keep focusing on the now and keep preparing for the future. I don’t really put a whole lot of thought into it, but I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about it.”
Gardner, whose four-year, $52 million contract extension expires this winter, is the Yankees’ longest tenured player. He made his major league debut back in 2008, and since then, he’s hit .264 with 89 home runs, 194 doubles, 247 stolen bases, and 426 RBI in 1,274 career games.
His 11th season with the Yankees didn’t start on a high note, but since the beginning of May, Gardner has performed exceptionally well as the team’s leadoff hitter (.305/369/.500 slash line). Overall, his average sits at .263, and in 55 games, he’s hit five home runs, stolen six bases, and driven in 21 runs.
Although manager Aaron Boone considers Gardner to be the “heartbeat” of the team, his future in the Bronx remains ambiguous. The team essentially has two choices: Exercise a $12.5 million team option for 2019, or let him become eligible for free agency with a $2 million buyout.
Even if the Yankees are without Gardner next season, their outfield would still be in pretty good shape. Sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and rookie Clint Frazier are capable of playing the corner outfield spots, and Aaron Hicks, who’s arguably the team’s best defensive outfielder, plays a great center field.
“‘I’ve been honest about not ever wanting to get traded,” Gardner told NJ.com, “wanting to stay here and thankfully I’ve been very fortunate to spend 11 seasons here and it’s a special team and I’ve gotten to know a lot of special people. So hopefully this isn’t my last year here, but I think the way that I play on the field and trying to stay healthy for the whole season will dictate that.”
Gardner also believes his age hasn’t caught up to him, according to NJ.com.
“I wouldn’t say so much, man,” said Gardner, who hasn’t played in less than 145 games since 2012. “I think a lot of that’s mental. As you get older, you get smarter and you figure out ways to maybe better ways to take care of yourself, the way you eat or the way you sleep or the way you work out and the way you prepare for a game on a daily basis. I feel great physically. I really do. I’ve been fortunate to have be healthy for the most part for the last several years, stay on the field. For me, that’s the main thing. Just staying healthy.”