The New York Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner have agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract extension -- with a club option for a fifth year at $12.5 million -- reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The new deal will begin in the 2015 season. Gardner was set to hit free agency after this season, so the deal buys out his first four years of free agency.
The breakdown is as follows:
$2 million signing bonus
2015: $12 million
2016: $12 million
2017: $12 million
2018: $11 million
2019: $12.5 million club option with a $2 million buyout
Gardner, 30, hit .273/.344/.416 with 33 doubles, 10 triples (an AL best), eight homers, 52 RBI, 81 runs and 24 stolen bases last season. He played center field, but with Jacoby Ellsbury now in house, Gardner will shift back to left. That's a big deal, too, because when Gardner was a left fielder, he was among the most valuable defenders in all of baseball.
After signing Ellsbury, Gardner's name was a popular one in unsubstantiated trade rumors, but general manager Brian Cashman repeatedly said that he wasn't going to deal Gardner. With this signing, Cashman's words are obviously confirmed as the truth.
The Yankees now have their current oufield locked up for the next three seasons, as Ellsbury is signed through 2020, Gardner is now locked up through at least '18 and Carlos Beltran is signed through 2016.