Brett Gardner is a homegrown Yankee favorite whose positive presence in the clubhouse has been well documented. He's won a World Series with the team, and a Gold Glove. He shared a stolen base crown with Coco Crisp in 2011, and he has been a durable cog in the lineup for the bulk of his career, aside from 2012. In an ideal world, he would be a Yankee for life, but the world isn't ideal, and Andrew McCutchen has put on pinstripes, making the future cloudy for the veteran outfielder.
Even without McCutchen joining the fold, Gardner wasn't a lock to come back according to The Inquisitr. He just turned 35, his salary is too high for the production he provides according to Pinstripe Alley, and there is plenty of talent to play the outfield already in the pinstripes family. By all appearances, Gardner is on borrowed time already, and if not for injuries, may have already been moved to another team in July before the non-waiver trade deadline expired.
The way the 2019 Yankee lineup looks like, it will shake out in relation to players under control is with Giancarlo Stanton in left, Aaron Hicks in center, and Aaron Judge in right - or some mix of those three, mostly dependent on which corner Stanton wants. Clint Frazier is the likely swing-man that will fill in wherever needed, potentially DH, and fill any role manager Aaron Boone needs. If Gardner was still under contract for 2019, maybe he would have been the fourth outfielder, but the current reality is he will be too expensive, too unproductive, and too old for the team's current direction per Elite Sports NY.Where McCutchen comes into play, potentially, is that he would like to play for a winner, and for more than a month. At 31, he is younger than Gardner, he is hitting better than Gardner, and he is at the very least, Gardner's defensive equal. While McCutchen may take a little more cash to sign than Gardner, he has youth and production on his side. He can slot any outfield position, and he can DH capably if needed, something that isn't a very good billet for Gardner. If the rumors that "Red Thunder" Frazier might be looked at as a possibility at first base in the spring, then keeping McCutchen around makes perfect sense. Of course, Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the payroll, but no one is sure he's ever going to play again, and if he does, the odds are extremely long against him being very productive. As pointed out by Advance Media NJ, guys who make a living via speed, don't often do well after major hip surgery.
If Ellsbury does come back and can actually play at a high enough level that the Yankees want him on the roster, the Yankees will be paying his full $21,142,857 million salary without insurance picking up 75 percent of the tab as noted at Baseball Reference, so Gardner and McCutchen would both be gone and the Yankees would be shopping Ellsbury for practically anyone or anything per Forbes.Any way you slice it, there really isn't room for Gardner on the Yankees in 2019. If sentimentality produced runs, he'd be a lock, but it takes guys swinging the bat well and moving around the bases for that to happen. If McCutchen decides he doesn't want to be a fourth outfielder, there's still no room for Gardner because the Yankees are stuck with Ellsbury. If Ellsbury doesn't come back, they still have a cheaper option in Clint Frazier. McCutchen may not the guy that forces Gardner out of New York directly, but he is the guy that gives the Yankees the extra flexibility to make it happen.