UPDATE: Whiteside is officially back in San Francisco, getting a minor-league contract, so the Giants made the correct call in non-tendering him. He’ll have to compete for a roster spot during spring training.
Earlier this week the Giants non-tendered Eli Whiteside, making him a free agent, but John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 32-year-old catcher is “close to a deal” to return at a lower salary.
Buster Posey’s season-ending injury led to a career-high 236 plate appearances for Whiteside and he was predictably stretched too thin as a regular, hitting just .197 with hour homers and a .574 OPS.
By non-tendering him the Giants avoided paying Whiteside around $750,000 via arbitration, so presumably he’s willing to accept a one-year deal for something a little closer to the new $480,000 minimum salary to back up Posey again.
George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner are back together on a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The deal includes a second year option worth $20 million.
Gardner, 36, is coming off of the strongest offensive season of his career, batting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases over 550 plate appearances. While he has certainly lost a step or two with age, he still rates as an above-average defensive corner outfielder as well.
As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees also value Gardner — a veteran of 12 seasons — for his leadership, especially with CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius gone.
Bringing Gardner back into the fold allows Giancarlo Stanton to remain the full-time DH. Gardner will return to left field with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge reprising their roles in center and right, respectively.