NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees will have their starting outfield intact for at least the next three seasons.
That’s because the Bombers and Brett Gardner agreed to a four-year, $52 million extension on Sunday, CBSSports and WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported.
“I let it be known that I wanted to be part of this,’’ Gardner said. “I learned from guys that have come from other places that there is no better place to play. I am looking forward to staying here and helping the team win.’’
The extension itself will not kick in until the 2015 season, Heyman reported. Gardner will make $5.6 million this season.
Gardner will receive a $2 million signing bonus, $12 million in 2015, $13 million in 2016, $12 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, plus a club option for $12.5 million or a $2 million buyout in 2019, Heyman reported.
A no-trade clause was not included, but if Gardner is traded during the deal he would receive $1 million.
The Yankees have always thought highly of the speedy Gardner, 30, so much so they turned down a significant trade offer back in December. The Cincinnati Reds reportedly were ready to send All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips to New York for Gardner, but the Yankees said no, even though they had just lost Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners through free agency.
Gardner’s name was also reportedly prominent in discussions the Yankees had with other teams about starting pitching.
“He has made himself into a tremendous major league player and he has a mental toughness that we love and he is great teammate,’’ general manager Brian Cashman said.
The extension ended any thoughts Gardner had about free agency next offseason and, when coupled with the deals given to newcomers Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million), assures the Yankees of having one of the better outfields in baseball, both offensively and defensively, for at least the next few seasons.
Gardner appeared in 145 games last season, batting. 273 with 10 triples and 81 runs scored. He will almost certainly be the Yankees’ starter in left field on opening day, with Ellsbury taking over in center.
Gardner is a career .268 hitter with .352 on-base percentage and 161 stolen bases in parts of six seasons, all with the Yankees.
The move was part of an active weekend for the Yankees. On Saturday night they reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with reliever Andrew Bailey. The 29-year-old right-hander is coming off shoulder surgery and is not expected to start the season with New York.
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