Aaron Boone stands by Clint Frazier as Yankees’ left fielder amid Brett Gardner deal


Clint Frazier Brett Gardner 2017

Clint Frazier Brett Gardner 2017

The Yankees‘ anticipated re-signing of veteran OF Brett Gardner, a move that SNY’s Andy Martino reported Friday was agreed upon at one year and $4 million with a club option for the 2022 season, does not impact Clint Frazier as New York’s starting LF entering 2021.

Manager Aaron Boone, who did not commend directly on Gardner’s expected return because the reported deal had yet to be announced by New York, acknowledged what a potential Gardner reunion would bring. He also, however, underlined his point about Frazier.

“Look, I expect Clint to be our left fielder and to be in that starting lineup,” Boone said. “Whoever we bring in here … a guy like Gardy is a guy that would play a lot, certainly, as a lot of our quotes that will quote-unquote be bench players or whatever. But Clint is going to be a regular player for us going into the season.”

As MLB executives told SNY’s Anthony McCarron earlier this week, the Yankees have a potential All-Star in the 26-year-old Frazier, who could be due for a next-level season as New York’s everyday LF for 2021. Gardner, 37, brings more than just a possible replacement for Frazier in the lineup on off days.

“I don’t know if it’s more important because I always value that, regardless,” Boone said. “I always value — even when guys healthy and playing a full season, having a day where they are down and the bench comes into play — I think you’ve seen me do that over these last couple of years. Obviously, we’ve dealt with a number of injuries that have forced us to go deep into our roster. But I value that in a normal year, whether or not we were coming off a 60-game season.”

An All-Star with the Yankees in 2015, Gardner slashed .259/.343/.401 while totaling 129 home runs, 539 RBI and 270 steals over 1,548 regular-season games from 2008-20. As a 13th-year veteran during the shortened 2020 season, Gardner hit a career-low .223, belting five homers and bringing in 15 RBI while stealing three bases. Frazier, on the other hand, looked to be turning the corner after flashy but inconsistent years from 2017-19. He slashed .267/.394/.511 with eight long balls and 26 RBI in 39 games, emerging through his fourth season as member of the Yankees organization.

Boone sees more than statistics when he shares his outlook on a “hypothetical” reunion with the two.

“It’s been fun to see that relationship grow, and I think the that respect exists between those two guys, and I think they both appreciate one another — and I believe that’s a relationship that’s evolved,” Boone said. “And I do feel like they’ve, in a way, pushed each other a little bit. But I know that Clint is, over the last couple years, really started to take the things that he can learn from a Brett Gardner and apply them. And in turn, I think Clint does a good job of — in his own way — kind of needling Gardy and pushing Gardy along. And they have a pretty cool banter back and forth, frankly, that I enjoy witnessing.

“But, look — I think those are two guys that can be really impactful players.”


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