NEW YORK (WFAN) — Brett Gardner is feeling pretty good these days.
With a surplus of outfielders on the Yankees’ roster, the speedster was rumored to be trade bait earlier in the offseason. According to WFAN/CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman, general manager Brian Cashman turned down a Gardner-for-Brandon Phillips deal in December.
But the 30-year-old is at ease now after he agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract extension with New York on Sunday. The deal will keep Gardner in pinstripes through the 2018 season.
Did last season’s American League triples leader ever think he was destined to be dealt?
“Once we signed Jacoby (Ellsbury), I wasn’t really sure what the future held,” the 2011 American League stolen-base leader told WFAN co-hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday. “I obviously wanted to stay in New York. It’s something that’s been in the works for a little while, and in the last several weeks, especially, it’s really come to fruition.
“Other than that, I didn’t really know what to expect and was prepared to come into this season and get ready for free agency.”
The top-0f-the-order sparkplug was caught off-guard when Cashman signed Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal in early December, but he’s very excited to share the outfield with him in 2014.
Ellsbury is expected to start in center field, moving Gardner over to left.
“I was a little surprised, I was surprised at first,” Gardner admitted. “But he’s a great player and he’s done a lot of great things over the last five or six years in Boston … Not just us, but really any team he goes to he’s gonna make you better. I’m looking forward to playing next to him, and I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
Gardner didn’t hide the fact that the prospect of becoming a free agent had its temptations, but when it came down to it he wanted to stay in the Bronx for the long haul.
“It is, it is, it definitely is,” the 2009 World Series champion told Joe & Evan. “That’s what guys play for, to get to that point. I’m not really somebody that likes change. I’ve been with the Yankees — I got drafted almost nine years ago … I like to know where I’m gonna be tomorrow, so when the opportunity came for me to stay here for a little while I definitely was excited about it.”
The sixth-year player batted .273 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs for the Yankees in 2013. He got on base at a .344 clip and was dangerous on the basepaths, stealing 24 bases and ripping 33 doubles to go along with 10 triples.
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