Bombers Avoid Arbitration With Starter, Heir Apparent At Closer, Speedy Outfielder

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees may be largely a team of high-priced offensive stars, but at the end of the day they will likely only go as far as their pitching and defense take them.

Ivan Nova, David Robertson and Brett Gardner make the Bombers that much better.

The Yankees avoided arbitration with each Friday, agreeing to terms with Nova, Robertson and Gardner on one-year deals. Later in the day they came to terms with reliever Shawn Kelley.

Nova, who was arguably the Yankees’ best pitcher during the second half last season, will get $3.3 million next season. Penciled in right now as possibly New York’s No. 2 starter, depending, of course, on what happens on the Masahiro Tanaka front or perhaps late offseason free agency, Nova went 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 appearances, including 20 starts, last season.

The 27-year-old right-hander has won 37 games over the last three seasons.

Robertson, who got $5.215 million, appears to be on target to close next season, replacing retired legend Mariano Rivera. However, that could change between now and opening day depending on what the Yankees do to complete the revamping of their bullpen. Earlier this offseason they signed veteran lefty Matt Thornton to replace Boone Logan, who bolted for big bucks from Colorado.

The 28-year-old right-hander went 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA and in 70 appearances last season as Rivera’s primary set-up man. Robertson is 21-14 with a 2.76 ERA and 10 saves in 339 career appearances, all with the Yankees. He has struck out 428 in 329 innings.

Brett Gardner follows through on his ninth-inning game-winning home run against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on August 11, 2013. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brett Gardner follows through on his ninth-inning game-winning home run against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 11, 2013. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Gardner will get $5.6 million next season, which is nearly a $3 million raise over last season, in which he hit .276 with 8 home runs and 52 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases in 145 games. The 30-year-old outfielder figures to be the Yankees’ starting left fielder on opening day, with Alfonso Soriano being used more in a full-time designated hitter capacity.

In addition to having outfielders who can hit for average, drive in runs and run the bases well, the Yankees should also have one of the best defensive units in the majors with Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Carlos Beltran in right.

Gardner is a career .268 hitter with 161 stolen bases over parts of six seasons with New York.

Kelley, a 29-year-old right-hander, went 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA in a career-high 57 appearances last season, and will get $1.765 million next season.

On Wednesday the Yankees reached an agreement on a one-year, $700,000 deal with backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.

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