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The Mexican Gangster wears pinstripes once again. The Yankees have signed Al Aceves to a minor league contract, according to Ken Davidoff. The contract includes a July 1st opt-out. He will join the Triple-A Scranton rotation for the time being.

Aceves, 31, allowed five runs in ten innings with the Orioles this spring. He opted out of contract when he was advised he did not make the team. Aceves had a 4.86 ERA (6.35 FIP) in 37 innings for the Red Sox last season, spending most of the year in Triple-A. The Yankees will carry David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno in their big league bullpen, so this move replenishes some rotation depth. Aceves has not been effective in a long time. I wouldn’t expect a return to 2009 glory anytime soon.

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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have signed all of their remaining pre-arbitration-eligible players. I unofficially count 18 of them. Some notables include Eduardo Nunez ($576,900), David Phelps ($541,425), and Michael Pineda ($538,475). The league minimum is $500,000 this season. All of these guys sign split contracts, meaning they earn a different salary in the minors.

The Yankees had previously signed John Ryan Murphy ($502,700), Vidal Nuno ($504,500), and Dean Anna ($500,000). This all procedural stuff. All of these pre-arbitration players are under team control for several more years, so they aren’t coming up on free agency anytime soon. They just needed contracts to cover this coming season and now they have them. A loose end that is tied up.

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The Yankees have officially signed outfielder Brett Gardner to a four-year contract extension with a fifth year club option, the team announced. Yesterday we heard the deal was worth $52M guaranteed with a $12.5M option ($2M buyout). Gardner is already under contract for $5.6M for 2014, so the extension covers 2015-18 and potentially 2019. Can’t say I was expecting to write something like this as recently as 48 hours ago.

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(Presswire)

(Presswire)

For the first time in a long time, the Yankees have signed a homegrown player long-term. Jon Heyman and Jack Curry report the team has agreed to a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $52M with outfielder Brett Gardner. The deal includes a $12.5M club option ($2M buyout) for a fifth year and it kicks in next season, so the contract covers 2015-18 and potentially 2019. Brian Cashman told Curry negotiations began way back during the Winter Meetings.

“I love it here, I love everybody in the organization, the coaching staff and all my teammates and this is where I want to be,” said Gardner to Erik Boland, Jorge Castillo, and Mark Feinsand. “Free agency is something that kind of intrigued me, but it also kind of scared me. I’ve never been anywhere else … 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.”

The Yankees and Gardner avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $5.6M a few weeks ago, so consider this one big five-year, $58.6M deal with an option for a sixth year. Joel Sherman says the contract will pay Gardner exactly $12.5M annually from 2015-18, and he gets a $1M bonus if he is traded during the life of the deal. Curry adds the contract does not include a no-trade clause. Gardner asked for one but the team was unwilling to do it.

The four-year deal is right in line with the four-year, $48M contract the Indians gave Michael Bourn last spring. Gardner gets an extra million bucks per year — chalk that up to inflation — but his option is a club option, not a vesting option like Bourn’s. Given the contracts handed out this offseason, Gardner might have been able to get five gauranteed years had he hit free agency after this season as scheduled. He and Bourn are two very similar players who signed very similar contracts at the same age. Have to believe Bourn’s deal was the framework for this extension.

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

Gardner, 30, was the team’s third round pick in the 2005 draft after walking on at the College of Charleston. He hit .273/.344/.416 (108 wRC+) with 24 stolen bases last year while setting career highs in plate appearances (609), hits (147), doubles (33), triples (ten), and homers (eight). He’s a career .268/.352/.381 (101 wRC+) hitter with two 40+ steal seasons to his credit. As you know, Gardner is a top notch defensive outfielder, though he will now slide back to left field with Jacoby Ellsbury and his $153M contract on board. The Yankees obviously value having two premium defensive players in the outfield.

As with every long-term contract, this deal comes with risk for the team. Gardner has not been the most durable player throughout his career, most notably missing almost the entire 2012 season due to an elbow injury and a series of setbacks. He’s also had thumb (2009), wrist (2010), and oblique (2013) problems over the years. The good news is that none of the injuries involved his legs, Gardner’s money-maker(s).

Just the other day I said I didn’t expect the Yankees to re-sign Gardner when he hit free agency after the season. I didn’t think the team would be open to paying top of the market salaries to two no-power, defense-first outfielders, and I also thought Gardner would prefer to play center field and leadoff, two things that won’t happen in New York thanks to Ellsbury. Wrong on both counts, I was.

The signing is a welcome break from the team’s archaic no extensions policy, which Cashman confirmed to Feinsand is a thing of the past. The Yankees tried to extend Russell Martin, Hiroki Kuroda, and Robinson Cano prior to free agency in recent years, but to no avail. The last homegrown player to sign a long-term deal with the team before becoming a free agent was Cano, who inked a four-year deal with a pair of club options way back in February 2008, four years before he was due to hit the open market.

The Yankees now have three outfielders signed through 2016, though the smart money is on Carlos Beltran being relegated to DH duty at some point during the life of his three-year contract. There is only one outfield spot open long-term for prospects like Zoilo Almonte, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin, but only Almonte is close to the big leagues right now, so this isn’t even a thing worth worrying about just yet. All of those guys are trade bait, now more than ever.

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(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Sunday: Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi and Jack Curry that Bailey’s timetable is likely not midseason, but closer to September. So yeah, this move is more about the 2015 bullpen than anything.

Saturday: The Yankees have added some potential midseason bullpen help. Tim Dierkes and Buster Olney report the team has agreed to an incentive-laden minor league contract with right-hander Andrew Bailey. The deal can be worth up to $2.5M and it includes an option for 2015.

Bailey, 29, is a local guy from New Jersey who went to Wagner College in Staten Island. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum and shoulder capsule last July, so he won’t be ready to pitch until midseason at the earliest. Bailey had a 4.91 ERA (4.68 FIP) in 44 innings for the Red Sox over the last two years while dealing with shoulder and thumb problems. He was legitimately one of the best relievers in the game before that, pitching to a 2.07 ERA (2.74 FIP) in 174 innings with the Athletics from 2009-11.

Torn shoulder capsules are very serious and no pitcher has returned from one to recapture his previous form. Guys like Chien-Ming Wang, Rich Harden, Johan Santana, and Mark Prior have all been derailed by torn capsules. I really think this move is geared more towards 2015 (especially with David Robertson due to become a free agent), but there is a chance Bailey will be able to help down the stretch this year.

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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have signed infielder Dean Anna and left-hander Vidal Nuno to one-year contracts for 2014. While in MLB, Anna will earn the $500,000 league minimum while Nuno will earn $504,500. Both guys still have all six years of team control remaining and can not become free agents until after the 2019 season at the earliest. I’m sure we’ll see both Anna and Nuno with the big league team at some point this summer, maybe even on the Opening Day roster.

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Via Matt Eddy: The Yankees have signed right-hander Cole Kimball to a minor league contract. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training as well, meaning there will now be 27 non-roster players in camp this year.

Kimball, 28, is a local guy who was born in Brooklyn and raised in Hackettstown. He picked up eleven innings of big league experience with the Nationals in early 2011, but he had rotator cuff surgery that July and has only thrown 49 innings since. Last season he had an 8.06 ERA and 4.91 FIP in 25.2 relief innings for Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, striking out 25 and walking 14.

“Before he got hurt, Kimball attacked hitters with a heavy 93-97 mph fastball, a swing-and-miss splitter in the mid-80s and a power curveball in the low 80s. He can throw the curve for strikes or bury it as a chase pitch,” wrote Baseball America (subs. req’d) in their 2012 Prospect Handbook. The Yankees are clearly hoping Kimball gets back to his pre-surgery form as he gets further away from the procedure.

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Via Peter Rolfe & Marty Shevelove: The Yankees have signed 17-year-old Australian right-hander Brandon Stenhouse to a six-figure contract. He also received money for college. “I have been waiting for many years to see if Brandon Stenhouse had the physical and mental makeup to be considered as a possible Yankee,” said John Wadsworth, the team’s scout in Australia. “I am pleased to see just how far this young man has progressed and his future is exciting to us all.”

Stenhouse, who is from Melbourne, will head to Tampa for a two-week orientation in April before returning home to graduate high school. He’ll then return to the U.S. full-time. At least two other teams were interested in signing him despite an ugly showing at the Under-18 National Youth Baseball Championships recently (eleven runs, seven walks, and four strikeouts in four innings). There isn’t much info out there about Stenhouse but the report says his fastball touches 93 mph.

The Yankees are already over their 2013-14 international spending pool just slightly, so Stenhouse will push them over even more. The team is planning to spend big internationally when the 2014-15 signing period starts on July 2nd. New York has signed a few players from Australia in recent years, most notably C Kyle Perkins and OF Adam Silva.

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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have signed catcher J.R. Murphy to a one-year contract worth $502,700 at the MLB level. I assume it’s a split contract that will pay him a lower salary in the minors, which is typical for players in their pre-arbitration years. The league minimum is an even $500,000 this coming season.

Murphy, 22, hit .269/.347/.426 (~117 wRC+) with 12 homers in 468 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He made his big league debut in September but is expected to return to Triple-A Scranton to open 2014. Murphy still has all six years of team control remaining and can not become a free agent until after the 2019 season at the earliest. The Yankees have 20 unsigned pre-arb players remaining, but they’ll all get done very soon and chances are most of those deals won’t even be made public.

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Via Alex Seixeiro: The Yankees have signed right-hander Chris Leroux to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He will presumably compete for a bullpen spot with other non-roster invitees like Brian Gordon, Robert Coello, and Matt Daley.

Leroux, 29, spent last year with the Yakult Swallows in Japan, pitching poorly (26 runs in 22 innings with a 14/11 K/BB) before a shoulder injury ended his season. He dominated in winter ball (2.76 ERA and 16/3 K/BB in 16.1 innings) and spent the 2011-12 seasons as an up-and-down arm with the Pirates. He’s got a 5.56 ERA (3.32 FIP) in 69.2 career big league innings. Leroux has a low-90s fastball and he relies heavily on his low-80s slider. Another arm for the stable.

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