Sunday, January 22, 2012
A Quick Word On Just How Awesome The Brett Gardner Contract Is
The Brett Gardner signing is a story that broke a few days ago, but it definitely warrants mentioning in greater detail. On Friday afternoon, the Yankees and Gardner agreed to a 1-year/$2.8 million deal, avoiding arbitration in the process. The Yankees originally offered Gardner $2.4 mil, he was asking for $3.2 mil, so the agreed upon deal falls right in the middle. The beauty of this deal is not so much what the Yankees are paying Gardner, but the value the Yankees are getting for their $2.8 million. Consider this:
- Only 13 Major League outfielders accumulated 5.0 fWAR or more in 2010.
- Only 12 Major League outfielders accumulated 5.0 fWAR or more in 2011.
- Only 3 Major League outfielders reached that 5.0+ fWAR level in both seasons. They were Jose Bautista (15.1), Matt Holliday (11.7), and Brett Gardner (11.2).
Say what you want about the flaws in the WAR statistic and in the sabermetric defensive measures that give Gardner the majority of his WAR value, but that's still pretty damn impressive. You don't see Josh Hamilton on that list, you don't see Ryan Braun on that list, you don't see Justin Upton on that list, and you don't see Jacoby Ellsbury on that list. And all of those guys are going to be making significantly more than Brett Gardner's $2.8 million in 2012 and in the near future.
True, Gardner is not the type to take home any end-of-the-year awards for his work at the plate. He had a respectable .358 wOBA in 2010 and dropped to .330 this past year, so he's not a Silver Slugger contender. But his value to the Yankees and in terms of generating WAR cannot and should not be understated. He is an elite defensive outfielder with the ability to play multiple outfield positions at the highest level. And at the plate, he has the ability to work counts, draw walks, and put the ball in play at above-average levels, which allows him to use his speed on the basepaths to create scoring opportunities. Gardner's skill set gives the Yankees contingency plans for both Curtis Granderson in center if they decide they can't afford him after next season, and for Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot if his age-related decline finally forces Joe to remove him from that role.
If you asked me if I'd like to have one of the top 3 outfielders in total WAR over the past 2 seasons who's in his prime at 28 years old on my team this season for the price of $2.8 million, I wouldn't even have to think before I said, "hell fucking yes I would!" The Yankees have the benefit of not even having to be asked the question, because they've already answered it for themselves. And if Gardner rebounds offensively the way all the projections think he will, this is going to be another steal of a deal for the Yankees in 2012.