Yankees Are Left to Wonder How to Clear That Final Hurdle

Yankees Are Left to Wonder How to Clear That Final Hurdle

Other decisions will be coming soon: Five days after the World Series ends is the deadline to extend one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offers for 2020. That seems too steep a price for any of the Yankees’ key free agents.

Gardner, a team leader who has spent his entire career with the Yankees, could be kept at a different rate. Gardner, 36, earned $9.5 million this season, hit a career-best 28 homers and still played stout defense in left and center field. Or does Mike Tauchman, who emerged as a capable fourth outfielder and will be seven years younger than Gardner next season, fill that role?

After Saturday’s game, Gardner said he hadn’t put much thought into his future but hoped to keep playing. “He’s still got a lot left in the tank,” Judge said. “I hope he comes back.”

The chances of a return are cloudier for Betances and Gregorius. Betances, who will be 32 next season, had the largest workload of any reliever in baseball from 2014 to 2018. His injury plagued 2019 season limited him to one game. An Achilles tear, which Betances was rehabilitating in hopes of avoiding surgery, was the latest culprit.

Granted, he missed two months of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but Gregorius regressed at the plate and in the field. He finished the regular season hitting .238 with 16 home runs, 61 runs batted in and a .718 on-base plus slugging percentage. His postseason was uneven. After Saturday’s game, Gregorius, who will be 30 next season, said he hoped his future was with the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres, 22, one of the Yankees’ stars this season, proved to be a serviceable shortstop in Gregorius’s absence. Torres could handle the position and allow D.J. LeMahieu to return to his longtime position, second base, where he won several awards for his defense.

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