The Yankees kept their switch-hitting center fielder away from the free agent market today, signing Aaron Hicks to a seven-year, $70 million extension today. The deal was first reported by YES Network’s Jack Curry.

Here’s the contract breakdown:

  • 2019: $6 million salary plus $2 million signing bonus
  • 2020: $10.5 million salary
  • 2021: $10.5 million salary
  • 2022: $10.5 million salary
  • 2023: $10.5 million salary
  • 2024: $9.5 million salary
  • 2025: $9.5 million salary
  • 2026: $12.5 million club option or $1 million buyout

Hicks does not get a no-trade clause but will receive a $1 million assignment bonus if he is traded during the course of this contract.

Hicks has established himself as the Yankees guy in center over the past two years, where he’s hit .255/.368/.470 (127 wRC+) with 42 home runs in 250 games. He rates well above-average as a defender in center field and as a baserunner. Only two pure centerfielders have been worth more in terms of Fangraphs WAR in the last two years: Mike Trout and Lorenzo Cain.

The Yankees are betting he’ll continue to improve as he taps into the potential that the Minnesota Twins saw when they selected Hicks 14th overall in the 2008 draft. The Yankees swapped catcher John Ryan Murphy out for Hicks after the 2015 season.

This contract is a huge steal for the Yankees. With a $10 million average annual value, Hicks will easily generate surplus value as a center fielder, and won’t be a burden as he ages into a corner job or into a bench role.

“I think Aaron Hicks is the most underrated player in the game,” Aaron Boone said. “He’s such a valuable player, playing a premium position. As good as our guys control the strike zone, he’s probably the poster child of it. The ability to hit for power from both sides, athleticism and speed; he’s a complete player.”

With Jacoby Ellsbury not in camp and Estevan Florial not a realistic option, Hicks now has the guaranteed money to match his almost-certain guarantee to be the Opening Day center fielder.

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