Yanks ink deal with Gardner

The Yankees avoided having to go to arbitration with another of their regulars on Friday, signing left fielder Brett Gardner to a one-year, $2.8 million contract. Gardner received a healthy raise over his 2011 salary of $549,500. Gardner was seeking $3.2 million in arbitration; the team was offering $2.4 million.

Gardner, who alternated between leading off and hitting ninth in the Yankees batting order, hit .259 with seven HRs, 36 RBIs and 87 runs scored in 2011. The speedy Gardner led the team with 49 stolen bases, tying Oakland’s Coco Crisp for the American League lead, but his on-base percentage of .345 was lower than that of any other Yankee starter besides catcher Russell Martin and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Gardner also hit .412 (7-for-17) in the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, higher than any Yankee other than Jorge Posada.

Over four seasons, all with the Yankees, Gardner, 28, owns a .264 (360-for-1362) career batting average with 50 doubles, 23 triples, 15 HRs, 122 RBIs, a .353 on-base percentage, and 135 stolen bases in 163 attempts (82.8%). With 47 stolen bases in 2010 to go along with his 49 steals in 2011, he joined Fritz Maisel (1914-15) and Rickey Henderson (1985-86) as one of only three Yankees in franchise history to record back-to-back seasons with at least 45 stolen bases.