Based on the play of their left-fielders this past season, it’s pretty clear the Blue Jays could stand to benefit from the addition of a helping hand out there. Even though Toronto will have little chance of making the post-season in 2019, they still need someone in left-field who won’t be dropping fly-balls or striking out 30% of the time.
Brett Gardner is the exact kind of player the Blue Jays need. I wish Toronto could have traded for him last winter after the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, thus relegating Gardner to become their 4th outfielder. He plays the game hard, grinds out at-bats, and at 35 still has excellent speed. He’s a lot like Curtis Granderson, except more dynamic and a better defender.
Even in the competitive world of Major League Baseball, Gardner is considered to be one of the more competitive players. If the Blue Jays do decide to sign him, he’ll push the likes of Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, and Anthony Alford to step-up their game if they want to earn the coveted starters job in left field. And if these young outfielders aren’t ready to take on such an important responsibility, Gardner will be more that happy and capable of doing so.
Some Blue Jay fans might be wondering why we’d ever want a life-long Yankee like Gardner. Well for starters, he can certainly help a Blue Jays outfield that’s in need of another reliable outfielder. Win or lose, he’s going to give you max effort every game. This never-say-die attitude is what Toronto seriously lacks. As we all saw these past six months how a good number of players lost much of their motivation when it was all too obvious the team wasn’t going anywhere.
Considering that Gardner is coming off a bit of a down year (.236/.322/.368) and turned 35 in August, Toronto should able to sign him to a reasonable short-term contract much like they did with Granderson last January. Nothing I’ve seen from any of Toronto’s young candidates for left-field tells me they’re quite ready to start at that position. Until they prove otherwise, the Blue Jays would be lucky to have someone like Gardner holding things down in left.