Brett Gardner is back, as expected, especially with Aaron Hicks on the 2020 shelf for half the year or more. Gardy signed a deal where he gets a $2 MM signing bonus for 2020 and a contract of $8MM. 2021 has a $10 MM deal but the Yankees have a $2.5 MM buyout. So he is guaranteed at least $12.5 even if bought out for 2021.
The Yanks have to be careful with his time in 2020 however. Even though he set career highs in HR and RBI in 2019, Gardner will turn 37 next August.
Meanwhile, Austin Romine is gone, going to Detroit on a 1 yr, $4.15MM deal. It gives him the chance to be a starting catcher.
The Yanks could go with Kyle Higashioka as a backup, or they could turn to Martin Maldonado, who played for three teams last season. Maldonado got along well with Gerrit Cole. Cole had a 2.82 ERA under other catchers, but with 10 games with Maldonado, had a 1.57 ERA. Maldonado has a poor batting average in his career, but does have some pop, and did win a Gold Glove two years ago.
I don’t know about these rumors about the Yanks being hot on the trail for Josh Hader. Hader would cost PLENTY. He is a lefty, only turns 26 in April, and is 11-9, 2.42, ERA+ 178 in his brief MLB career with 49 saves. In 204.2 IP, he has 349 K. He would cost PLENTY. (Think Andujar, Frazier, Deivi Garcia, and possibly another top pitching prospect). He would be a FABULOUS addition, but at a very high cost.
The winter meetings ended with the Rule 5 draft and here is who the Yanks lost. The player must stay with the big club for the whole year or they go back. Here are 2019 minor league numbers for each.
Rony Garcia P to Detroit.
The first pick.
1. Rony Garcia, RHP, Tigers (from Yankees) 22 next week.
Garcia raised his prospect profile by boosting his stuff in 2019. He now operates with a 91-95 mph fastball that touches 97, an improved low-80s slider that shows flashes of becoming a solid pitch, a new cutter and an effective changeup. He throws strikes but must continue to refine his command in order to succeed as a starter.
He was 4-13, 4.01 High A/AA 24 starts, 1 relief, 130 IP, 129 K.
AAA Phase: Different than with Rony Garcia.
Blue Jays: RHP Hobie Harris (Yankees) , 26. High A. 3-4, 4.62. 1 save. 48.2 IP, 59 K.
White Sox: RHP Will Carter (Yankees) 26, AA/AAA 2-3, 5.45
Red Sox: RHP Raynel Espinal (Yankees), 28, AAA 5-7, 4.32.
Braves: 2B Wendell Rijo (Yankees) 24. Righty bat. A+/AA/AAA combined. .258-13-44. 103 g.