Saturday, January 13, 2018

Examining the Yankees Payroll Situation After "Arbitration Friday"

Photo credit: Pinstripe Alley

The deadline for players and teams to swap numbers and potentially come to an agreement on a contract for the 2018 season has come and gone and the New York Yankees agreed to terms with each and every one of their arbitration eligible players. I may be only speaking for myself and Dellin Betances here but I will say this anyway, thank goodness. Earlier in the week I personally wrote an article laying out how the arbitration process could make or break the Yankees offseason and their search for austerity. Let's look at how those numbers panned out and how it will or won't affect not only the Yankees attempt to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold but also how it could affect how the organization goes about their offseason both in the trade market and on the free agent market as well.

Here are the eight Yankees arbitration eligible players with their MLB Trade Rumors arbitration prediction numbers in parenthesis and the actual number they agreed to with the team beside it in red. Let's analyze.

Adam Warren ($3.1 million) 3.315 million - +$0.215 million 
Didi Gregorius ($9 million) $8.25 million - $0.75 million "saving"
Dellin Betances ($4.4 million) $5.1 million - +0.7 million
Sonny Gray ($6.6 million) $6.5 million - $100K "savings"
Austin Romine ($1.2 million) $1.1 million - $100K "savings"
Aaron Hicks ($2.9 million) $2.85 million - $500K "savings"
Tommy Kahnle ($1.3 million) $1.3125 million - +$0.125 million
Chasen Shreve ($900K) $0.825 million - $0.075 million "savings"

Alright, so the Yankees had five players who made less than what MLB Trade Rumors predicted and three that made more than what MLBTR predicted for a total of $29.2525 million. MLB Trade Rumors predicted the Yankees spending $29.4 million which means the Yankees beat that number by $0.1475 million, I would say that is "winning." 

The Yankees didn't go over the $30 million the team had allotted for arbitration this season and now have roughly $22 million to work with this season. Now keep in mind this includes any call ups throughout the season, any additions at the July 31st trade deadline, and potentially up to $2 million in incentives for left-hander CC Sabathia leaving the Yankees very little wiggle room in the grand scheme of things. Does this leave enough room for Yu Darvish? Probably not. Does it leave enough room for Mike Moustakas on a one-year pillow contract? I mean, maybe... but it isn't likely. Does this leave enough room to, barring a Jacoby Ellsbury or David Robertson type trade to clear space, add a veteran at third base like Eduardo Nunez and maybe another lesser starting pitcher or reliever to call it an offseason? Yes, that seems the most likely option right now. 

Damn you austerity, and damn you slow offseason. DO SOMETHING!

One Step Closer to Spring Training...

Prize Fight between Betances and Levine called off…

The Yankees avoided an off-the-field fight yesterday when they signed all of their arbitration-eligible players to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, including Dellin Betances who lost his fight at the arbitration table last year. It sparked angry (and, in my opinion, unnecessary and ridiculous) words from Yankees Team President Randy Levine. This year, Betances gets the $5 million he sought a year ago when Levine said that “five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.” Personally, I think Betances will rediscover the magic and will resume his role as one of the elite setup artists in baseball. He is worth the money, regardless of what Levine may think.

Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, New York Post
I was glad to see the Yankees stayed a couple of dollars shy of the $29.4 million total projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Not that MLB Trade Rumors is the foremost authority, but they were fairly accurate in their projections.

Here are the actual one-year settlements for the arbitration-eligible players:

Didi Gregorius, $8.25 million
Sonny Gray, $6.5 million
Dellin Betances, $5.1 million
Adam Warren, $3.315 million
Aaron Hicks, $2.825 million
Tommy Kahnle, $1.3125 million
Austin Romine, $1.1 million
Chasen Shreve, $825,000

Total:  $29.2275 million

Gregorius accepting $750,000 less than his projected amount of $9 million was the difference-maker in bringing the total for all players under $29.4 million. Gregorius has one more year of arbitration before he hits free agency. I really hope the Yankees look to lock him up on a new long-term deal next off-season rather than wait for him to hit the free market. Same with Sonny Gray.  

Yu had me at…

Following the Yankees’ ‘did they or didn’t they’ make an offer to free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is funny. Earlier in the week, Michael Kay reported on his show the Yankees had offered Darvish a 7-year contract for $160 million.  On Twitter, Darvish responded “They don’t give me offer yet”. Darvish subsequently clarified his position with “Sorry guys. My mistake. Actually they did make offer the numbers are not correct.”  

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Nothing against Darvish, I like the pitcher, but I wouldn’t want to devote in excess of $20 million per year to the pitcher even if the Yankees could somehow find a way to move Jacoby Ellsbury and his heavy contract or trade someone like Brett Gardner or David Robertson. Yesterday, Dodgers Nation posed a question to their fan base if they wanted the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish. The immediate reaction was negative, with many lingering feelings of disappointment and resentment over the awful World Series performance given by Darvish. Not that I feel a couple of poor (very poor) starts should define Darvish, but the October Stage is not made for everyone. It was a red flag that Darvish might not be a guy who can elevate his game when the stakes are at their highest. If money was no object, then I’d gladly be willing to accept Darvish on the team. But in the grand scheme of things for a team trying to stay under $197 million, the money is better served in other areas.

Please Keep Numbers 29 and 77 Ready…

We are now only a month away before pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Tampa, Florida. With so many free agents still available, it would seem that we’ll be playing exhibition games before some big names know what jerseys they’ll be pulling on. I continue to preach for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal to take third base and provide backup support at first for Greg Bird. Of course, I’d also trade Brett Gardner despite his leadership qualities and status as the most tenured Yankee to open up a significant role for Clint Frazier. So, my views are obviously ‘Up goes Frazier(s)’.  

Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters
I thought we’d see more baseball activity last week than we did. Admittedly, it seems like I feel that way every week yet we continue to hear crickets. Yes, the Mets re-signed Jay Bruce but the off-season continues to move along very slowly. I don’t believe owners are guilty of collusion. I think this year has been a wakeup for owners who do not want to give extended contracts to guys and end up with ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like' situations on your hands. Plus, you have the added factor that MLB’s two biggest spenders are furiously trying to keep payroll under $197 million. I am hopeful the current sluggish market conditions bring quality third base help to the Yankees.

R.I.P. to a Legendary Sportcaster…

I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of retired sportscaster Keith Jackson. Growing up in the 70’s, he was the premier voice of College Football and so many other top sporting events to me. His style and grace were legendary qualities. So many times in my life I’ve said “Whoa, Nellie!”, thanks to Jackson. He passed away Friday night in the Los Angeles area, where he made his home. Farewell, Keith. May you rest in peace. Heaven has gained a tremendous Angel and we will miss you.

Photo Credit: LA Times
Have a great long weekend, Yankees family! Go Yankees!