Aaron Hicks signs 7-year extension with Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. -- Credit a newborn baby and a belief in the New York Yankees' long-term future for helping lead outfielder Aaron Hicks into a seven-year contract extension that the team announced Monday.

The new deal will keep the center fielder and first-time father under contract through the 2025 season, and includes a club option for the 2026 season.

The Yankees did not disclose financial terms, but Hicks will make $70 million over the first seven years, according to ESPN and multiple reports.

"Definitely now I don't have to worry about buying diapers," said Hicks, whose son, Aaron Jr., was born last month.

Hicks added that the recent birth of his son helped impact the decision to sign the extension now, rather than play through the rest of the year with free agency looming next offseason.

"This was a fair deal for both sides," Hicks said. "This is an organization I want to stay with.

"The guys in the clubhouse, I want to fight for them. I want to go to war for them."

The deal, which will start this year, was first reported by the YES Network.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman estimated that he and Hicks' representatives began discussing the extension in December. Within the past few days, the conversations picked up.

Cashman's message to Hicks once the deal was complete? "I'm betting on you."

"He has more gas in his tank, he has more mountains to climb," Cashman said. "We're excited by a player who came here that wasn't a finished product and had a lot of upside. We engaged him on a lot of levels about the talent that we thought he possessed."

A .236 career hitter, Hicks was traded to the Yankees from Minnesota after the 2015 season.

After scuffling to a .217 batting average his first season in pinstripes and struggling to stay healthy his second year in the Bronx, Hicks had a career year in 2018. He set career highs in games played (137), homers (27), RBIs (79), runs scored (90) and WAR (4.7).

Hicks, 29, tweaked his offseason regimen entering last season; he believes that kept him on the field and had a positive impact on his performance.

"I started eating better, started training better," Hicks said. "I felt strong throughout the season, all the way until the end."

Last Saturday, Hicks told reporters during the Yankees' spring-training opener at the Red Sox facility in Fort Myers, Florida, that he still wasn't over last year's American League Division Series loss to Boston. He said he'll be feeling the sting of that defeat until the Yankees finally win a World Series.

"I want to win a World Series," Hicks said then. "I'm tired of losing. We've come so close, but I'm tired of saying we came close."

Hicks echoed those sentiments Monday when he said he believes the Yankees are constructed well enough to contend for championships throughout the entirety of his new contract.

Other Yankees feel the same way now that Hicks and the recently re-signed Luis Severino are locked into their long-term future.

"[Hicks] is a big part of this team and a big part of our success. ... I always love playing by him," Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said. "To hear he got seven years, we'll be playing together for a long time."

A switch-hitting center fielder, Hicks has emerged as a valuable player for the Yankees, with manager Aaron Boone recently referring to him as "maybe the most underrated player in the game."