Next Friday, the New York Yankees and their eight arbitration-eligible players will exchange salary numbers for the upcoming season. An estimated 30 million payroll dollars will be at stake, and the outcome of these cases will impact the team’s desire to avoid the luxury tax. Let’s take a look at the potential winners and losers.
The arbitration process, as the New York Yankees well know, is fraught with flaws and the potential for hurt feelings. But it is the system negotiated and contained in the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players.
Neither side likes the process, but until a better idea comes about the process will once again reach a conclusion this year.
A good read comes from Scott Gilly, writing for Business Insider, in which as a former arbitrator, he breaks down the do’s and don’ts for behavior. His main point comes at the end when he says, “Play hard, play nice,” which sounds like a nice trick if you can do it.
Last year, Yankees fans will recall the debacle that occurred when team president Randy Levine ripped apart Dellin Betances after the Yankees had beat him in arbitration. The squabbling over one million dollars was a public relations nightmare for the organization, and it remains unknown to this day to what degree Betances was affected (mentally) as he moved through the season.
Coincidentally, Betances is again entering the process in a few days.
Here’s the full list of Yankees put together by MLB Trade Rumors who will be going through the arbitration process this year, provided none are signed before Jan. 12:
- Adam Warren (5.036) – $3.1MM
- Didi Gregorius (4.159) – $9.0MM
- Dellin Betances (4.078) – $4.4MM
- Sonny Gray (4.061) – $6.6MM
- Austin Romine (4.045) – $1.2MM
- Aaron Hicks (4.041) – $2.9MM
- Tommy Kahnle (3.015) – $1.3MM
- Chasen Shreve (2.167) – $900K
The numbers in parenthesis are the respective years of service and on the far right is each player’s projected value as a prediction of what the final settlement will be once it finds its way in the hands of the arbitrator.
With the possible exception of Betances (again), I don’t see how any of these numbers could be a problem to the point where the Yankees will say, “You’re not worth that much.” With Betances, who had an up and down season that ended poorly, perhaps the Yankees take the high road to atone for last year. But otherwise, a battle between the two sides will wage again.
Each of these players will have a crucial role in the Yankees success this season so it is vital that each is kept “happy” within reason. At the same time, the team is faced with the challenge issued by Hal Steinbrenner to not exceed the $197 million luxury tax threshold.
At the moment and pending any free agent signings or trades adding salary, the projected $30 million budgeted for arbitration adds is not an issue. But if two or three of these players (Gregorius, Hicks and Kahnle stand out as possibilities) win their case with numbers higher than shown, a problem will quickly arise.
We’ll have a better idea on this once the numbers are exchanged on Friday when we’ll take another and closer look at the numbers and where potential issues might exist.
In the meantime, this is yet another reason why the free agent market is so slow this offseason, as many teams, including the Yankees, wait for the dust to settle on their arbitration cases before moving forward adding payroll.