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Yankees, Aaron Hicks agree to seven-year, $70 million extension

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Jack Curry of YES Network reports that the Yankees and center fielder Aaron Hicks have agreed to a seven-year, $70 million contract extension. The team is expected to announce the extension later today.

The deal will begin this season, so it will run through 2025. There’s no word if it contains additional option years but, as it is, the deal covers him through his mid-30s. UPDATE: There is a club option for 2026.

Hicks, 29, is starting his fourth season with the Yankees following three seasons with the Twins. Last year he hit .248/.366/.467 (123 OPS+) with 27 homers, 79 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Hicks would’ve been eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. In the past, a plus-hitting center fielder signing early for a $10 million average annual salary would’ve never happened because to do so would mean leaving millions on the table. The free agent market of the past two offseasons, however, has changed the calculus.

One cannot begrudge Hicks taking $70 million and setting himself and his family up for life but the current market is pushing down all salaries, not just those of free agents.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.