Yankees agree to a four-year, $52 million contract extension with outfielder Brett Gardner

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From Jack Curry of the YES Network comes word that the Yankees are on the verge of signing outfielder Brett Gardner to a four-year, $52 million contract extension. The deal, which will officially begin in 2015, also includes a $12.5 million club option (or $2 million buyout) for the 2019 season.

Gardner was arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this winter, so the new contract covers four years of free agency (with a possible fifth).

Gardner, 30, batted .273/.344/.416 with 24 steals and 81 runs in 145 games last year for New York.

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UPDATE, 1:51 p.m. ET: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that it’s a done deal.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.