On Sunday, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, outfielder Brett Gardner has signed a four-year, $52 million contract extension to stay with the Yankees. The deal includes a 5th year club option for $12.5 million or a $2 million buyout. This deal starts in 2015.
Gardner will now avoid free agency and will be 35 at the end of this contract. If the Yankees would have offered him a qualifying contract after the season it would have been $1 million more than the average value of the contract that he currently has.
Gardner was drafted by the Yankees in the third round out of the College of Charleston in 2005. He made his debut with the Yankees in 2008, stole 26 bases when the team won the World Series in 2009 and stole a career-high 49 bases in 2011. In 2013, he hit a career-high 10 triples and 147 hits, had a .273 batting average, hit 33 doubles, and stole 24 bases.
Trade rumors circled Gardner earlier in the season, but after signing Masahiro Tanaka the Yankees don’t need as much pitching help. It was also thought he might be traded for second or third base help. The Yankees obviously like being able to have speedsters Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the bullpen for years to come.
This deal is slightly risky because if Gardner losses any of his speed he will not be a valuable player anymore. Gardner, who will not primarily be playing center field this year based on the signing of Ellsbury, does not produce the power numbers of a typical corner outfielder.
However, if the speed that he has shown so far in his career stays for the next three years, he will be able to continue to make up for his power with his defensive ability and his ability to hit doubles, triples and to wreak havoc on the basepaths. He has played 145 games or more in three out the past four seasons, so his durability is definitely a plus for the team.
In other player news, the Yankees have signed injured free agent Andrew Bailey to a minor-league deal. The deal is a minor-league one since he had shoulder surgery after only pitching in 30 games last season. The last game that he appeared in last season was on July 12. He had a a 1.76 ERA at the end of May, but struggled after that to finish with a 3.77 ERA.
He could be healthy in August after rehabbing from surgery, which means that he could be similar to a trade acquisition before the August 31 trade deadline (players have to have gone through waivers unclaimed to be traded in August). If he regains his previous form, he could be the set-up man to David Robertson, and even pitch the ninth inning to give Robertson a day off. Bailey was also injured in the 2012 season leading to a horrible 7.04 ERA, but Bailey had a 1.84 ERA, 26 saves and 91 strikeouts during his rookie season for the Oakland Athletics in 2009. His WHIP for his career is an outstanding 1.06.
Bailey, who was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2009, was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball during his three seasons with the Athletics.