Yankees facing decision on Gardner contract

New York holds option for 2019 on 11-year veteran outfielder

October 29th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The final out of the World Series started the clock on the Yankees' first substantial decision of the offseason, as they have three days to make a call regarding 's future in pinstripes.

The Yankees hold a $12.5 million option on Gardner, their longest-tenured player, for 2019. If general manager Brian Cashman puts Gardner on the free-agent market, the club will owe Gardner a $2 million buyout.

Gardner, 35, hit .236/.322/.368 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 140 games this past season. A career .261 hitter, each of Gardner's 11 big league seasons have been played in the Bronx.

"I'd love to come back here, man," Gardner said after the season-ending loss to Boston in the American League Division Series. "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. My agent [Joe Bick] and I have a great relationship with Cash and the rest of the front office. I'm sure when the time is right, we'll sit down and talk about that."

While Gardner remains part of the roster for now, eight Yankees officially became free agents on Monday: Zach Britton, J.A. Happ, , , , , and .

Even with a crowded outfield picture that led to Gardner losing playing time to McCutchen down the stretch, it is possible that the Yankees could decline Gardner's option and attempt to bring him back as a free agent.

McCutchen is expected to explore other opportunities, but the Yankees feature an outfield alignment that will be populated by , and , plus and potentially returning from injuries.

"Everything we decide certainly will come from the results of assessing the available market, what we currently have and obviously factoring ownership's directives," Cashman said. "... So I have no answers on Gardy or anybody right now."

With megastars like and Manny Machado headlining the free-agent class, it will be curious to see how the Yankees respond in light of Boston's fourth World Series title in 15 seasons.

Cashman and his lieutenants held three days of professional scouting meetings last week, organizing their thoughts as they prepare to attack the team's needs. Cashman has said that starting pitching will be the Yankees' priority, with free-agent lefty thought to be high on their list alongside Happ and Sabathia as possibilities to fill out the rotation.

"The constant challenge is finding ways to be that last team standing," Cashman said.