Yankees decline options on Brett Gardner and J.A. Happ, making them free agents

Brett Gardner has played his entire 13-year MLB career in pinstripes, but his future in the Bronx seems to be in doubt.

The Yankees announced Friday morning that they have declined Gardner’s $10 million option for next season, though Gardner would still be owed a $2.5 million buyout, leaving some room for the veteran outfielder and the Yanks to come to a new agreement to keep Gardner with the team.

The left-handed outfielder played in 49 games with the Yankees last season, a key piece in the outfield due to injuries to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. But the 37-year-old hit a career low .223 and had more strikeouts (35) than hits (29).

But the one-time All-Star and former Gold Glove winner has been a staple of the Yankees’ outfield since 2008, playing 1,548 games with the Bombers.

The Yankees also announced Friday morning that they have declined J.A. Happ’s 2021 option.

But things seem a little murky with Happ’s situation. The veteran lefty’s 2021 option, worth $17 million dollars, would have vested automatically had he made 10 starts or pitched 61.1 innings in the shortened 2020 season. Happ didn’t reach either of those marks, which seems like a planned move on the Yankees’ part, as they used Happ sparingly throughout the regular season.

The Yankees came into this offseason with some key decisions to make, including what to do with veterans like Gardner. Earlier on Thursday, the Yankees exercised Zack Britton’s 2022 option, preventing him from possibly becoming a free agent this winter due to a clause in his contract.