NEW YORK (AP) — Making another move to keep their core of players together, the New York Yankees agreed to a $70 million, seven-year contract with outfielder Aaron Hicks.
Hicks’ agreement adds $64 million in guaranteed money over six seasons and club option for 2026 that could make it worth $81.5 million over eight seasons.
A 29-year-old switch-hitter, Hicks took over as the Yankees primary center fielder last year and set career highs with 137 games, 27 homers and 79 RBIs. He agreed on Jan. 11 to a $6 million, one-year contract and would have been eligible for free agency after this season.
His new, superseding deal calls for a $2 million signing bonus and keeps the $6 million salary this year. He gets $10.5 million annually from 2020-23 and $9.5 million in each of the following two seasons. The Yankees have a $12.5 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.
Hicks would get a $1 million assignment bonus the first time he is traded. He receives a hotel suite on road trips.
With a $4 million increase in Hicks’ average annual value this year, New York’s raised its projected luxury tax payroll to about $229 million, well above the $206 million threshold and past the first surtax level. The Yankees would pay a 20 percent tax on the first $20 million above the threshold and pay at a 32 percent rate on the next $20 million.
New York didn’t pay luxury tax in 2018, the first time the Yankees were under the threshold since the tax started in 2003. By falling under, the Yankees reset their tax rates, which had been 50 percent on the first $20 million over and 62 percent on the next $20 million.
New York has not given many multiyear contracts to players under its control in recent years, but the Yankees gave right-hander Luis Severino a $40 million, four-year deal on Feb. 15.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius and reliever Dellin Betances remain eligible for free agency after this season. In addition, right fielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez become eligible for salary arbitration next winter.
Notes: Former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte has been hired as a special adviser to general manager Brian Cashman. Pettitte, 46, was a five-time World Series champion and three-time All-Star with New York. He pitched for the Yankees from 1995-03, spent three years with his home-state Houston Astros, then pitched for the Yankees from 2007-13.
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