NEW YORK -- The Red Sox were whooping it up in the center of the Yankee Stadium infield and Brett Gardner allowed himself a few extra beats before making the hard left toward the clubhouse from the first-base dugout.Pinstripes are all that the longest-tenured Yankee has worn in his professional
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox were whooping it up in the center of the Yankee Stadium infield and Brett Gardner allowed himself a few extra beats before making the hard left toward the clubhouse from the first-base dugout.
Pinstripes are all that the longest-tenured Yankee has worn in his professional career, and while Gardner made it clear that he wants another crack at a championship, he also recognizes the very real possibility that Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Boston in Game 4 of the American League Division Series could have represented his final game for the franchise.
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"A little bit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't," Gardner said. "But I've tried to focus on this year, take things one day at a time and focus on the group of guys that we have here now, focus on this postseason. There'll be a time when we can sit down in the offseason and figure out what my future looks like. Just for right now, it's disappointing that the season ended the way it did."
Gardner's contract includes a $12.5 million team option for next season, with a $2 million buyout. Whether or not to retain the 35-year-old outfielder will likely be one of the first decisions made by Cashman and his staff as they transition into the offseason.
"I'd love to come back here, man," Gardner said. "I've never played anywhere else. We'll see what that looks like. We've already got a lot of young guys and a lot of guys already on the roster. I've been here for a long time."
Cashman also must ponder the futures of a group of potential free agents that includes pitchers Carsten Sabathia, J.A. Happ, Player Page for David Robertson and Zach Britton and outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Of that group, the strongest emotional tug will be toward the 38-year-old Sabathia, whose three-inning effort on Tuesday was his 18th postseason start as a Yankee, tied with Roger Clemens and behind only Andy Pettitte (40) and Whitey Ford (22).
Sabathia has emptied his tank in New York after signing as a celebrated free agent prior to the 2009 season, helping christen the new Yankee Stadium with a championship and then making the transition from power pitcher to a soft-tosser who generates weak contact
"If I had one word to describe him, it's a warrior," Aaron Judge said. "It doesn't matter how he's feeling that day, what's going on. He's going to be out there on that mound every five days for you. He's going to pick you up when you're down, he's going to be in your corner at all times. I've never had a teammate like that."
Though Sabathia toyed with the idea of retirement when he endured an injury scare late last season, he is now firmly committed toward pitching in 2019 -- even if that means he must wear another uniform.
Asked how he would like to be remembered as a Yankee, Sabathia replied, "Just as a good teammate. A guy that cared about these guys a lot, pushed and was trying to win a championship every time out. That's all you can ask for, I guess. Hopefully my teammates see me like that."
Robertson, a homegrown Yankee who was reacquired last July, just completed the four-year, $46 million deal that he signed with the White Sox in December 2014. The 33-year-old said that he does not know if he fits into the Yankees' future plans.
"Obviously I'd like to think that, but I don't know what's going to happen in the next few months," Robertson said. "I'll wait and see what happens. That's the best I can tell you on that. I have to look out for what's best for me."
The list of potential Yankees free agents also includes pitcher Lance Lynn and infielders Adeiny Hechavarria and Neil Walker.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.