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Yankees prove Brett Gardner is no dog

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Gardner's extension is the first smart move the Yankees have made with a player under contract since signing Jorge Posada to a 4 year extension in 2008.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I've always wondered how teams convince themselves that lines in the sand, that inflexible policies, are a good idea to state publicly. And I wonder how teams decide which personalities and playing styles they value. I wouldn't give any player a contract for longer than 6 or 7 years, unless the player is Mike Trout. And I wouldn't consider any young outfielder off limits, unless that outfielder had the potential to be a Wil Myers. And I wouldn't trade a young pitcher for an outfield rental, because I might trade away Zack Wheeler. For every rule, there must be an exception.

For years, the Yankees' stated policy was that they would not negotiate extensions with players under contract. And they've repeated that policy even as the economic landscape changed so drastically that I felt flabbergasted they didn't see they were negotiating from a position of weakness. While the Rays and the Cardinals and the Jays have bent the cost curve by betting early on incredibly talented players at the beginning of their careers, the Yankees have allowed their few homegrown stars to go year to year through arbitration and hit free agency.

Now, watch David Ortiz gripe for a contract extension, and you can understand why the Yankees put the policy in place. But overall, it's good to see the Yankees recognizing that a contract extension is in their best interest.

Imagine if the Yankees had signed one of their young players, like maybe a certain slugging second baseman, to an extension when he was in arbitration. Think about Miguel Cabrera's 8 year/ $152M extension signed in 2008 as he negotiated his third year of arbitration. That's hardly small potatoes–6 of those 8 years are over $20M; but imagine his payday if he'd hit the market

Even though maybe sometimes people considered Robinson Cano a "dog" because he wouldn't run out every ground ball, he obviously worked hard because he went from a potential platoon player hitting .287/.328/.372 against left-handed pitching, to hitting .328/.374/.490 the next year and then often crushing lefties more than righties for the next several years. When a player shows that combination of work ethic and talent (it's one thing to want to do it, and another to do it), that's exactly the time a team should re-evaluate its policies.

So, overall, I'm very happy the Yankees worked out an extension with their often injured, slap hitting, scrappy left fielder. It gives me hope they've learned a lesson about player value that the rest of baseball figured out years ago.