Brett Gardner Rumors
Brett Gardner was positioned to be one of the top free agents in next year's class, but he's no longer on the market. The Yankees officially announced today that they have signed the Pro Star Management client to a four-year extension with a club option for a fifth season. Gardner's new deal begins in the 2015 season and is reportedly worth $52MM. He receives a $2MM signing bonus and will earn $12MM in 2015, $13MM in 2016, $12MM in 2017 and $11MM in 2018. The 2019 club option is worth $12.5MM and contains a $2MM buyout.
"It's something that's been in the works for a little while," Gardner said (as quoted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News). "I made it known to them that I wanted to stay here and be a part of this. I learned from guys that come from other places that there's no better place to play, so I look forward to staying here and helping the team win."
Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including Curry (Twitter links ), negotiations began with agent Joe Bick during the Winter Meetings and was hopeful something could be worked out because the 30-year-old was one of the Yankees' best players last season.
"I like what he brings -- the speed dynamic, the defense and I think the offense is there as well," Cashman said (as quoted by MLB.com's Joey Nowak). "Although he's going to be playing left field most of the time for us, I think he's one of the better leadoff/center fielders that this game can provide."
Cashman also said some contract language still needs to be ironed out, but the extension is a done deal (via Curry's Twitter feed). ESPN's Buster Olney tweets Michael Bourn's four-year, $48MM deal with the Indians a year ago was a comparable used during negotiations.
Gardner will make $5.6MM in 2014, his final season before free agency eligibility. His future with the Yankees briefly seemed to be in doubt after the Yankees acquired Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran this offseason, as there were plenty of rumors that the Yankees might trade him. In late December, however, the Yankees said they had "absolutely no intention" of trading Gardner, and this deal reveals their high level of commitment to him. That high level committment, however, does not involve a no-trade clause. Curry tweets Gardner asked about no-trade protection, but the Yankees did not want to do it.
Gardner's extension removes him from the free agent corner outfield market next offseason. Gardner agruably would have headlined the group, which, per MLBTR's 2015 Free Agents list, could include Michael Cuddyer, Norichika Aoki, Josh Willingham, Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera.
The YES Network's Jack Curry first reported (on Twitter) that the two sides were nearing a four-year, $52MM contract, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the agreement had been reached. Heyman also tweeted the yearly breakdown, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post adding that Gardner would receive a $1MM bonus if traded.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Edward Creech and Steve Adams contributed to this post.
- Extending Gardner was a wise move for the Yankees, argues Jack Curry of the YES Network. The club never intended to deal him unless it was "overwhelmed," says Curry. "He really has developed into a real solid, every day player," said GM Brian Cashman. "He's tough and he's a gamer. I think he's part of the solution here."
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News opines that the deal was a win-win. "I think Brett would be valuable to any team," said Cashman. "He's got that type of dynamic speed and defense, and the ability to get on base that would fit with any franchise." From his perspective, Gardner said that signing the deal was "probably the biggest decision I've ever had to make in my life." He continued: "I've put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day, that's a lot of money, and where I come from, at that money, or twice that much money, I'm not going to change the way I live."
- Bailey is not expected even to begin throwing until July, at the earliest, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. "The bottom line is focus on August or September for him to help the major league club, if at all," said Cashman. But the Yankees were moved to make the deal given Bailey's upside, even if they remain less than certain that it will reap any dividends. "When he is healthy, he is an exceptional reliever," Cashman explained. "He's coming off shoulder surgery so we're taking a flier, a low risk. If we can get a reward out of it, great. If not, it's one of those nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's his shoulder -- more likely than not it's an uphill battle, but we'll see."
- Meanwhile, New York may be open to discussing an extension with new closer David Robertson but has yet to engage him in talks, reports Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger. Cashman was noncommital when asked about a new deal for Robertson, who is set to reach free agency after this season: "Would we be opposed to it? We'll see." The dominant setup man will earn $5.215MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. He will hit the market at age 30, and with another strong season could be in line for a sizeable new contract.
- The Yankees will not make an offer to shortstop Aledmys Diaz or pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, reports George A. King III of the New York Post (hat tip to River Ave. Blues). The pair of Cuban free agents recently auditioned for New York, with the former a particularly intriguing possible target given the Yanks' long-term needs up the middle.
Brett Gardner and the Yankees are on the verge of agreeing to terms on a four-year, $52MM extension that begins in 2015, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. The deal includes a $12.5MM team option with a $2MM buyout.
Robertson, a client of Damon Lapa and Scott Leventhal's All Bases Covered agency, is currently in line to replace the legendary Mariano Rivera as the Yankees' closer. Doing so would be of particular benefit to he and his agents, as it would boost his stock heading into free agency next offseason. Though he's struggled in a small sample when used as a closer, Robertson has been one of the game's premier setup men over the past three seasons and certainly has the talent to succeed in a ninth-inning role.
11:06am: The Yankees have avoided arbitration with Brett Gardner by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.6MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Gardner is repped by Pro Star Management, Inc. Agent Joe Bick looks to have done quite well for Gardner, as MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $4MM.
The 30-year-old Gardner enjoyed another solid season at the plate in 2013, batting .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 33 doubles, a league-leading 10 triples and 24 stolen bases. Gardner tallied a career-high 609 plate appearances despite being sidelined for two-and-a-half weeks with an oblique strain, and he played solid defense in center field as well (particularly according to Defensive Runs Saved, which rated him at +6).
This is Gardner's final season of team control before he's eligible for free agency. In 2014, he'll team up with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to comprise the Yankees' primary outfield. The Yanks have ducked arbitration with Gardner, Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Francisco Cervelli, but they still have a potential hearing to avoid with Ivan Nova.
Here are some hot stove items from Peter Gammons in his latest piece for his namesake website, GammonsDaily.com...
- Gammons adds the Phillies to the list of teams who "have taken a run" at acquiring Brett Gardner from the Yankees. Philadelphia is one of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have checked in on Gardner --- we've seen the Tigers, Reds, Indians, and Giants also linked to Gardner earlier in the offseason. Both Yankees president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman have said they admire Gardner's play and aren't willing to move him, though Gammons feels that Cashman "won’t move [Gardner] until and unless [Cashman] has to for starting pitching." This is just my speculation, but Gammons' phrasing could be a hint that the Yankees could shop Gardner if they fail to land Masahiro Tanaka.
- The Rangers, Red Sox and Rockies are three of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have asked the Padres about Chris Denorfia. Colorado's interest has presumably dried up due to their acquisition of Drew Stubbs. San Diego GM Josh Byrnes isn't willing to discuss trading Denorfia as long as he feels the Padres can be contenders, and Byrnes thinks his club's offseason moves could put them in the playoff mix. The Rangers also showed interest in Denorfia last July before the trade deadline.
- Mets assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi recently claimed that his team was happy with Ruben Tejada as a starting shortstop and that the free agent shortstop market wasn't to the Mets' liking, but Gammons hears otherwise from an NL general manager. The GM believes the Mets are concerned about their inexperience up the middle (Tejada at short, Juan Lagares in center and Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate) and are only seeming disinterested in Stephen Drew as part of negotiations with agent Scott Boras.
- If Drew re-signs with the Red Sox, Gammons doesn't expect Boston to deal Will Middlebrooks, as the team still values his power.
- The offseason's most interesting overlooked deal is the Athletics/Rangers swap that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland and Michael Choice to Texas, Gammons opines. Gentry is a right-handed bat who can spell Coco Crisp in center or replace him in case of injury, and "the A’s think Gentry’s comp is at least Peter Bourjos," Gammons writes. Choice, meanwhile, gives the Rangers a corner outfield bat who can spell Shin-Soo Choo against left-handed pitching.
The Rays' attempts to trade David Price are greatly complicated by the fact that the team is still trying to contend in 2014, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Most teams unloading a star player are doing so in order to rebuild and add young talent across the board, but Tampa Bay is trying to add Major League-ready players for another playoff run next season. Here are some more items from Rosenthal's latest column...
- The Rays "probably wouldn't be excited" by the prospect of trading Jeremy Hellickson if they couldn't move Price. Hellickson's name came up in trade rumors last offseason before the Rays moved James Shields, and I agree that if Tampa Bay doesn't trade Price, the team is much more likely to just stand pat with its rotation rather than move another starter.
- Brett Gardner's career numbers compare to those of Michael Bourn and (somewhat surprisingly) even Jacoby Ellsbury, so Rosenthal wonders if the Yankees could sign Gardner to an extension now and perhaps save themselves some future money if they want to keep the outfielder in the fold.
- MLBPA officials believe Gardner will earn a "considerably higher" salary in arbitration than the $4MM number projected by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- If the Yankees do abandon their plan to stay under the $189MM luxury tax threshold, then Rosenthal wonders why the team bothered setting that goal for themselves in the first place when it may have cost them several players over the past year. Rosenthal also suggests Bronson Arroyo as a durable short-term option for New York, noting Arroyo's friendship with Yankees strength and conditioning coach Matthew Krause.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Mariners would be willing to re-sign Kendrys Morales (provided that they're still willing to spend, that is). I'd argue that bringing Morales back as the regular DH would create some problems for the M's --- they'd have to trade Justin Smoak, plus play Corey Hart and Logan Morrison in the field every day, which could be a risky move given their injury histories.
- An AL general manager praised the Orioles' trade for David Lough, noting that "he can do everything that [Nate] McLouth does. He might end up being an even better hitter than McLouth.”
The Yankees have "absolutely no intention" of trading Brett Gardner to clear room in their crowded outfield or to fill a need elsewhere, according to team president Randy Levine. Levine made the comments this morning on ESPN Radio's The Ian O'Connor Show (partial transcript courtesy of ESPNNewYork.com).
"We think he's going to be on the roster," Levine said. "One of the reasons the baseball people signed Jacoby Ellsbury is the two of them together present a tremendous dynamic one-two or nine-one, whatever Joe Girardi decides to write in at the top of the lineup. One will play left, one will play center, and it's a tremendous defensive situation. So, no, there's absolutely no intention to move Brett Gardner."
Gardner has been a popular name on MLBTR this winter with reports linking him to the Tigers, Reds, Indians, and Giants. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $4MM arbitration salary for the 30-year-old after he slashed .273/.344/.416 in 609 plate appearances with 24 steals and an AL-leading 10 triples in 2013. Gardner will be eligible for free agency next offseason.
Levine also addressed the Alex Rodriguez situation and its implications on the team's desire to remain underneath the $189MM luxury tax ceiling. With a decision from the arbitrator expected next month on A-Rod's 211-game suspension, Levine claims the third baseman is in the team's 2014 plans.
"From our planning purposes, we have Alex Rodriguez in our budget as is if he will be playing," Levine said. "And that's the way it will be until there's a change of circumstance. His money is in the budget. But as we stand now, we have a shot to get to 189. I think it's a fair shot. It all depends on what type of players become available to us, and what choices we have to make."
The Tigers have discussed trading Austin Jackson to the Yankees in exchange for Brett Gardner, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Both players have been above-average fielders in center over their careers and have comparable career batting lines, though Gardner is a better base-stealer and Jackson has more doubles pop. Jackson turns 27 in February, is projected to earn $5.3MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility and he'll hit free agency after the 2015 season; the 30-year-old Gardner is projected to earn $4MM and he'll be a free agent next winter. I'm not sure this deal makes sense for the Tigers unless they don't think they can sign Jackson (a Scott Boras client) to an extension, or if they aren't interested in extending Jackson. From the Yankees' side, they like Gardner enough that they probably wouldn't move him for a very similar player, albeit a younger one.
Here are some more items from all five AL Central franchises...
- The Twins have increased the value of their two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey from $10MM to $12MM, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Rangers and Giants have also shown interest in Pelfrey, Neal reports.
- Also from Neal, the stumbling block between Matt Garza and the Twins seems to be Garza's demands for a four- or five-year contract, as Minnesota isn't willing to make that long a commitment due to injury concerns. That said, Neal isn't counting the Twins out of the Garza race yet as he hears the team is still in the hunt (Twitter links). You can read more about the Twins' hunt for pitching here.
- The Royals could continue to shop Billy Butler since "Before too long, the DH spot has to be a rotating position for us. It really does," a club official tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. For one, the Royals may use Salvador Perez at DH to keep his bat in the lineup when he isn't catching, plus added DH days would help keep Perez healthy. Even if Butler isn't dealt this offseason, Dutton doesn't believe the Royals will sign him to an extension once his current deal is up. It was reported earlier today that Butler's name had come up in trade talks with the Blue Jays.
- The Royals, Indians and Rangers are among the teams interested in Shaun Marcum, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets. Marcum underwent surgery to correct his thoracic outlet syndrome in July and his agent updated MLBTR's Tim Dierkes on the recovery process last month.
- The White Sox are looking to cut their payroll from just under $119MM in 2013 to between $89MM-$99MM range for 2014, ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla writes, with the $99MM figure being the likelier of the two. Despite the cuts on the Major League side, GM Rick Hahn said the club will reinvest the saved money into extra spending on the draft and international signings.
- In other AL Central news from earlier today, the Tigers reached an agreement with Joba Chamberlain and the Indians were battling with the Padres over Joaquin Benoit.
Ken Rosenthal shares a few anecdotes from the Winter Meetings as well as some hot stove notes and opinions in his latest entry for FOX Sports...
- It seems as if the Yankees will keep Brett Gardner since the team likes the idea of he and Jacoby Ellsbury combined in left and center field and hitting 1-2 atop the lineup. That said, Rosenthal thinks that while the Yankees like Gardner, they won't re-sign him next offseason, as Gardner will look for a new team that can offer him a center field position and a leadoff spot.
- Matt Kemp "seems to have ticked off someone in [Dodgers] upper management, though few seem to know who or why," Rosenthal writes. This could be part of the reason behind the Kemp trade rumors, though Rosenthal feels the Dodgers will have to eventually deal Kemp if they're serious about restocking their farm system. That deal might not happen until after 2014, however, as the Dodgers would be selling low on Kemp now and a rebound would both up his trade value and help the club on the field given Carl Crawford's health problems and Joc Pederson's inexperience.
- The Dodgers are "disinclined" to sign Stephen Drew. This could be another case of the Dodgers focusing on their minor league development, as signing Drew would block prospect Corey Seager, not to mention cost the Dodgers their first round pick in next year's amateur draft.
- The Mariners are more likely to look internally to find closing help, rather than acquire a stopper as originally planned.
- Rosenthal thinks the Mariners need to add another starting pitcher and another big bat, with Nelson Cruz seeming like a "must-have" given the uncertainty about Corey Hart's health. The additions of Hart and Logan Morrison are seen by rival executives "as somewhat incoherent" given that both players share injury histories and are the same type of 1B/DH types, though the M's plan to try Hart in the outfield.
- The Mets have received criticism from their fans for their low payrolls in recent years, but Rosenthal notes that the team's free agent expenditures are a sign that the Amazins are willing to spend.
10:37pm: Phillips has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a deal to the Yankees but the Reds did not ask him to waive his no-trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Yankees continue to say that they are reluctant to trade Gardner, who will earn a little more than $4MM in his walk year (link).
10:05pm: Before the Yankees turned down the proposed swap, Phillips asked for his contract to be re-opened to pay him more money to agree to the deal, a National League source tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
9:22pm: Both Brandon Phillips and Brett Gardner have seen their names pop up in trade rumors recently, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that the two of them actually had their name in the same deal. The Yankees, according to Heyman, turned down a Phillips-for-Gardner swap that was proposed by the Reds.
Phillips, 32, regressed to a .261/.310/.396 batting line with 18 homers in 2013. Always one of baseball's best defenders at second base, Phillips didn't disappoint on that front, turning in a strong +8.5 UZR/150 mark. The Yankees are a logical suitor for Phillips, given the fact that they just lost Robinson Cano to the Mariners late last week. However, though he's cheaper than Cano, Phillips is still owed $50MM over the next four years -- his age-32 through age-35 seasons.
Gardner, 30, also saw his role come into question due to the Yankees' free agent decisions. New York inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a massive seven-year, $153MM contract, giving them an outfield mixture of Ellsbury, Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. Gardner is viewed as superior to most of those options and likely appeals to Cincinnati because he could play center field for a season while top prospect Billy Hamilton gets some additional minor league seasoning. Gardner batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 24 steals and a league-leading 10 triples in 2013. That would make him a dynamic leadoff option to replace Shin-Soo Choo atop Cincinnati's lineup while delivering elite center field defense.
The trade would fill a need for both teams, so it'll be interesting to see if they revisit the framework down the line, perhaps adding other pieces to make it more appealing to the Yankees.