NEW YORK (AP) – For the first time since 2006, the Yankees enter spring training without Brett Gardner and manager Aaron Boone doesn’t know if New York will try to re-sign the last link in the team’s most recent World Series championship.
The 37-year-old outfielder became a free agent after the Yankees declined his $ 10 million option, triggering a $ 2.5 million termination.
“He’s obviously a great Yankee, but we have to see how the situation evolves,” Boone said Wednesday before the first practice at training camp in Tampa, Florida.
Boone said he expects Clint Frazier to be the starting left fielder after a breakthrough last year in his fourth season with the Yankees. The 26-year-old hit .267 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 131 at-bats in the shortened season by the pandemic. That followed a 2019 campaign in which he hit .267 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in 225 at-bats.
“Last year, I think he showed that he was ready to have a daily role with the team and especially the improvements he made in all aspects of his game,” acknowledged Boone.
Boone’s third season with the Yankees ended with another disappointment, just like his first two years. They lost in five games to Tampa Bay in the American League Division Series.
In pursuit of their first World Series title since 2009, the Yankees reconfigured their starting rotation, allowing Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and JA Happ to leave. Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery are expected to join ace Gerrit Cole in the rotation and Deivi García, Domingo Germán, Michael King, Clarke Schmidt and Jhoulys Chacín will compete for fifth place.
Luis Severino is expected to return this summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery on February 27 of last year.
After two seasons interrupted by injuries, outfielder Aaron Judge and designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton have tried yoga to maintain their fitness.
New York expects an offensive rebound from wide receiver Gary Sanchez. He is coming off a disappointing third consecutive year and rounded a .147 batting average, the lowest of his career. He was displaced from the start by Kyle Higashioka in four of the five division series games.
Venezuelan Robinson Chirinos was acquired as a backup receiver, part of a series of minor league deals that were announced Wednesday. The team added depth to their pitching staff with Chacín, Kyle Barraclough, Nick Goody, Adam Warren and Asher Wojciechowski. Others who were included were outfielders Michael Beltré, Socrates Brito and Jay Bruce, wide receiver Rob Brantly and infielder Derek Dietrich.
“Being able to acquire Robinson so late in the winter to add depth to receivers seems to me like tremendous,” said Boone. “More than anything a great player who was out of nowhere at our disposal.”
Boone also wants to test third baseman Miguel Andújar on third, first and outfield during the preseason.