Yankees manager Aaron Boone called center fielder Aaron Hicks "the most underrated player in the game" over the weekend.
Now he and the Yankees hope he can be one of the franchise's cornerstone players into the next decade.
"This is where I want to be," Hicks said on WFAN to Mike Francesa on Monday afternoon, hours after he signed a seven-year, $70 million contract extension that will keep him in pinstripes until at least 2025.
Hicks, 29, will be a Yankee until at least his age-36 season. His contract also includes a team option for 2026. He will earn $8 million this season, $10.5 million annually from 2020 to 2023 and $9.5 million in 2024 and 2025. His club option is worth $12.5 million.
"I thought it was a fair deal for both sides," Hicks said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman agreed.
"I don't think you can say that it's club friendly, I don't think you can say that it's player friendly," Cashman said on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.
Hicks, who could have been one of the more sought-after free agents in next year's class -- Yasiel Puig, J.D. Martinez, Marcell Ozuna and Juan Lagares could be among the other free agents next offseason -- bought out his final year of arbitration and opted for long-term security.
Though Cashman didn't bring up free agent Bryce Harper, he mentioned how the free-agent market has slowed over the past two years, mentioning how A.J. Pollock didn't sign his five-year, $60 million deal with the Dodgers until late January.
"We all recognize with the marketplace ... you saw how things were playing out in the last two years of free agency," Cashman said. "We tried to find a soft landing spot that we all could live with."
Hicks' deal isn't the first extension the Yankees made this offseason. Earlier this month, they locked up RHP Luis Severino to a four-year, $40 million deal, buying out his remaining years of arbitration.
"Whenever you can get some years like that with a great team," Hicks told Francesa, "that's definitely big in decisions."
Hicks has spent the last three seasons with the Yankees after they dealt catcher John Ryan Murphy to Minnesota to acquire him. Since, he has hit .244/.344/.431 with 50 home runs and 162 RBIs. Last year, he slashed .248/.366/.467 with a career-high 27 home runs and 79 RBIs in 137 games.
"We've got a premium player that in a lot of ways grew up and developed here," Boone said. "It's exciting for us all. I'm glad this is behind him now. He's really hungry to go out and show that not only is he the player he's shown us the last couple of years, but maybe there's more in there."
Though the Yankees still have younger players like 24-year-old Clint Frazier, who isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021, and 21-year-old prospect Estevan Florial, who hasn't played above the High-A level, Hicks' contract means the Yankees will have an outfield of him, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the foreseeable future.
"[Hicks] is a big part of this team and a big part of our success. ... I always love playing by him," Judge said, according to ESPN's Coley Harvey. "To hear he got seven years, we'll be playing together for a long time."
Should Hicks spend his entire contract as the Yankees' starting center fielder, he would join a lineage that also includes Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Bernie Williams, among other long-time Yankees center fielders.
Francesa asked Hicks what being part of that history meant to him.
"It's definitely a historic center field," Hicks said. "And I just want to keep adding to it and do whatever I can to make that position still a great position."