Brett Gardner Signs 4 Year Extension with Yankees for $52 Million
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 24- Despite spending hundreds of millions on free agents during the off-season, the New York Yankees are not broke, nor have they stopped spending to make what they believe will be improvements to the team.
The questions regarding his future with the Yankees raised by outfielder Brett Gardner during his recent appearance in New York City to receive a Thurman Munson Award by the AHRC were answered on Sunday as he inked a four-year extension of his current contract that will begin in 2015 for an additional $52 million. The club will have a fifth year option for $12.5 million. Although there is not a no-trade clause, the Yankees will pay Gardner a $1 million bonus if he is traded during the course of the contract.
Gardner was somewhat dismayed by the unexpected offseason acquisition of free agent, Jacoby Ellsbury, a center fielder and lead-off batter as is Gardner. Prior to the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on February 4, the 30-year old expressed his surprise by the Ellsbury signing, “I didn’t see it coming.”
His words to reporters that evening displayed his insecurity regarding his future with the team, “I don’t really have any expectations of where I’ll be playing or where I’ll be hitting…Hopefully, I’ll play a big role…Until something happens, I expect to be a Yankee.”
Thus far, Gardner has been a Yankee product since being drafted in the third round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft. He made his debut in the majors on June 30, 2008.
Gardner spoke very differently on Sunday than he did less than three weeks earlier, “It’s meaningful to be able to play for New York. Hopefully, one day I can retire, and say I didn’t play for another team. I think that would be awesome. It’s such a historic franchise…I love putting on the pinstripes.”
Gardner also spoke very positively of the coming season for the Yankees, “I feel like we’re going to have a special season and a special next several years. We brought in a lot of good talent this off-season and I’m looking forward to getting out on the field in a couple of days and playing baseball.”
On Tuesday, the Yankees will play their first Spring Training game against Florida State University with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
New York Yankees General Manager explained some of the thinking of the team’s brass for the contract extension, “It’s a demonstration from our end. We don’t typically do this, but it shows the level of confidence, beliefs and trust in the type of person and player he is.”
Gardner will play left field and not bat in the lead-off position unless something unexpected happens to Ellsbury before or during the season. It appears that Carlos Beltran will be in right field, Alfonso Soriano will be the designated hitter and Ichiro Suzuki will serve as the fourth outfielder.