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End of an era. Long time Yankee and World Series Champ, Brett Gardner, is officially a free agent.

Well, it truly might be the end of an era. The last remaining piece to the Yankees World Series team in 2009 might have played his last game in pinstripes. We knew this was evident eventually, both sides have declined their options and Brett Gardner is officially a free agent. It's truly a happy-sad feeling.

A 2005 draft pick out of College of Charleston, Brett Gardner was a true homegrown success story. He excelled in the minors and found his way to the Bronx in 2008. The following season, he started and played in over 100 games, helping the Yankees capture their 27th World Series ring. Over the entirety of his 14 season career, he offered immense versatility in the outfield and matured into a clubhouse leader.

His speed earned him the AL stolen base leader in 2011 and AL triples leader in 2013. His defense on top of that tallied him a Gold Glove (2016) and three fielding Bible Awards (2010, 2011, 2017). He was considered one of the fastest players ever in the MLB. He stole 274 bases in his career, and was highly disciplined at the plate, holding a career average of .256. He made contact with over 90% of his swings, hitting 1,470 hits and 139 homeruns.

Brett Gardner will be remembered by his clutch moments, lightning speed, and of course fiery ejections, which one the hearts of Yankee fans across the country.

It bothered me a little some of the criticism Gardy received this past season. With Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier suffering season ending injuries, Gardner played an integral role this year. At 38 years old, he stepped up in more of a starting role, rather than an off-the-bench guy. According to Statcast, his OAA (Outs Above Average) and DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) tabbed him as average. For a 38 year old, everyone should be happy. His offense dipped a little bit, but he had a decent line of .222/.327/.362 line with 10 homers in 461 plate appearances. Again, very serviceable. He struck out less and walked more too.

What Brett gave the Yankees was so much more than just baseball statistics. You can't teach heart, and that's what Gardy was all about. I loved Gardy's passion. I loved his clubhouse presence. I love how he carried himself, his leadership, his approach. I truly believe he is the epitome of an old-soul Yank. It's truly unfortunate he couldn't win another ring.

They could work out a reunion after both sides declined, but I think his time as a player is done. With the Yankees having Hicks returning plus the idea of upgrading the centerfield position, it seems that this truly means goodbye. I would hate to see him a different jersey. It would look so weird if him in another uniform, especially like a Diamondback jersey or some shit like that. What I would love is Gardy to return... as a coach. His connection with the last World Series and his knowledge and passion would be an ideal candidate for a base coach role.

Maybe he will go somewhere else. Maybe he will retire. Maybe he will take some time away. Or maybe he comes back. But if this is the end, thank you Brett Gardner.


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