Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yankees Get Gardner To Stay Awhile

Brett Gardner could have tested the free agent waters next year, but instead chose to stick around a little longer in New York. The Yankees and Gardner agreed to a four year contract extension worth $52MM on Sunday.

The Yankees went out of their comfort zone - they normally don't extend players that are already under contract - to get Gardner at a reasonable price.  GM Brian Cashman explained why.
"It's a demonstration from our end. We don't typically do this, but it shows the level of confidence, belief and trust in the type of person and player he is, and we're excited to know he's going to be part of this thing going forward."1
While Cashman may be saying all the right things about Gardner, the terms of the contract also make the left fielder a viable trade chip in the future should any of the touted outfield prospects (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin) pan out.  But Gardner wants to stay right where he is.
"I don't want to be anywhere else," Gardner told reporters. "There's no better place to play baseball than in New York. I've never been anywhere else. I got drafted here almost nine years ago, and I love it here. I love everybody in the organization, the coaching staff and all my teammates, and this is where I want to be."1
While I don't necessarily agree with the length of the deal, it was a smart move by the Yankees, especially considering how much money they have tied up going forward in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka. By getting Gardner at a mere $12.5MM per year (there's a $12.5MM option in 2019 with a $2MM buyout), the Yankees will have more money to work with when players like Mark Teixeira come off the books.

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