Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gardner, Yankees Agree to Extension

After what I believe was too long of a wait for a player of Gardner's caliber, the Yankees and Brett Gardner have agreed to a contract extension that will keep Brett Gardner in pinstripes until 2018. The two sides settled that the extension would go into effect after the 2014 season. This season the Yankees and Gardner avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal that will pay him $5.6 million. In each of the four years after 2014, the corner outfielder will make $12.5 million per year, a raise of more than two times what Gardner is slated to make in 2014. The extension does not come with a no-trade clause, and in the case that Gardner is traded he will make a $1 million bonus. The deal could possibly span five years if the Yankees pick up an option for the 2019 season, which if exercised will have Gardner making another $12.5 million in his age 35 season.

The contract is a win for the Yankees, who figure that compared to Ellsbury, Gardner's contract is team friendly and the Yankees will get similar production from both players. In addition, having the pair patrol the outfield for possibly six seasons means the Yankees will have some of the best outfield defense in baseball. However, upon signing Gardner realizes that he will spend the rest of his Yankee days playing LF/RF. He will see time in center field only when Ellsbury is injured or needs a day off. Gardner is a durable player who embodies the grittiness that the Yankees were once known for. Before his minor injury that sidelined him for the Yankees final two weeks, Gardner set career highs in many categories including hits (147), RBI (52), doubles (33), triples (10) and home runs (8).

In addition, after announcing the deal, Gardner reiterated that he wants to be a Yankee for life, and that he has no desire to play for another team. The Yankees are the only team Gardner has ever known besides playing baseball in college as a walk-on, who did not get much consideration. Now, Gardner is an asset on the Yankees and management loves him and his skills on the bases and in the outfield. Cashman would not trade Gardner for Brandon Phillips earlier in the off-season, and we now know why.

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