Know your arbitration-eligible Yankees


The MLB Players Association yesterday released its list of the 210 players eligible for arbitration. Maury Brown has the full list right here, and five members of the 2009 Yankees find themselves under team control and arbitration-eligible.

Before exploring these players, a few notes on procedures: Salary arbitration is available for players who have not yet reached free agency and players who are free agents. A player with more than three years but fewer than six — with some exceptions for what is known as Super Twos — can file for arbitration. Conversely,the player’s former team can decide to non-tender those players at which point the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

For current free agents not constrained by service time, clubs can offer salary arbitration to former players by Dec. 1. That move allows the team to recoup draft picks if the player goes elsewhere, but the team runs the risk of an unwanted or overpaid player accepting arbitration and sticking around. The arbitration discussed here is limited by service time and not contractual free agency. And so onto the Yankees.

Chien-Ming Wang — Service Time: 4.159 years; 2009 Salary: $5 million
The Yankees and their former ace have a tenuous relationship when it comes to salary disputes. In 2008, Wang lost in arbitration, and the Yankees made a big deal about saving $600,000 in the process. Last year, the two parties settled for $5 million in late December, but it’s clear that the Yankees are skeptical of Wang’s ability and future success. Considering the nature of his surgery and his recent ineffectiveness, they might have a reason for that skepticism.

Early on this off-season, the conversation has centered around Wang’s contract status, and rumors suggest that the Yankees will non-tender him. They could then try to sign him to an incentive-laden deal with a low base salary. Whether this will placate the sinker-ball specialist is up for debate. Some feel the two-time 19-game winner could test the open market; others say that his marketability in Taiwan is dependent upon the pinstripes.
Prediction: The Yanks will non-tender Wang but resign him to an incentive-based deal more favorable to the team.

Brian Bruney — Service Time: 4.164 years; 2009 Salary: $1.25 million
Last year, the Yanks and Bruney avoided arbitration after exchanging salary figures. Bruney wanted $1.55 million; the Yanks countered with $1.1 million; and the two sides nearly split the difference. Bruney had a worse year in 2009 than he did in 2008. He suffered through some early-season elbow problems and saw his walk rate increase while his strike out rate decreased. His ERA jumped over 2.10 runs, but the Yankees want to bring him back.
Prediction: A one-year deal worth approximately $1.7-$2 million.

Melky Cabrera — Service Time: 3.148 years; 2009 Salary: $1.4 million + $25,000 for reaching 525 plate appearances
Unless something drastic happens — Curtis Granderson, Mike Cameron or that long-rumored Melky and Ian Kennedy for [Insert Player Here] trade — Melky will again battle it out with Brett Gardner for the center field job. After putting up bad numbers in 2008, Melky rebounded with a nice 2009 campaign. I would expect the Yanks will settle with Melky but not offer him a long-term deal.
Prediction: One year, $2.5 million

Chad Gaudin — Service Time: 4.163 years; 2009 Salary: $2 million
A mid-season acquisition, Gaudin showed some good stuff while pitching for the Yanks. He’ll be 27 by Opening Day and will be a swing man for the Yanks next year. I doubt the two sides will head to arbitration here, and Gaudin should receive a bump from his $2 million salary.
Prediction: One year, $3-$4 million

Sergio Mitre — Service Time: 4.132 years; 2009 Salary: $1.25 million
Mention “Sergio Mitre” to a Yankee fan and you may find that fan fighting back the urge to scream. Just a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Mitre was awful for the Yanks. He managed to win three games but sported a 6.79 ERA. Opponents hit .320/.361/.509 off of him. The Yankees hold a $1.25 million option for 2010, and although Mark Feinsand doesn’t expect them to pick it up, I do. For that low price, the Yanks can bolster their depth.
Prediction: One year, $1.25 million

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Drew says:

    Melky love ftw!

    As for Wanger, would it be a given that if he is offered arbitration, his salary would go up despite Mo-awful performance and obvious injury issues?

  2. Nice savvy move by Cashman offering Mitre a one-year plus a one-year club option back when we signed him originally, even though he wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency anyway after the first year. Now, we can simply exercise the rather cheap 1.25M option rather than going through the rigamarole of arbitration, where even players with shitty numbers often still see slight pay raises.

    Foresight and financial largesse FTW.

  3. Some Guy says:

    “Matt Cameron”


  4. pete says:

    would it make any sense to sign melky to a two-year deal? avoid this scenario next year, and if his numbers go up, he could probably have better trade value if he’s got an extra guaranteed year. Just a thought – I really don’t know jack squat about this kind of stuff.

    • Nah, probably not. Just keep going year to year.

    • A.D. says:

      The team ownes him for the next 3 years regardless, its just a matter of how much he’s going to cost.

    • Drew says:

      Two years? Let’s make it ten!

    • I mean, theoretically, yeah, if you could get him to sign a steal of a deal (like, 3 years at 3M per) where the likelihood was that as he continues to improve, his production quickly outstrips his compensation and he becomes a really desirable trade asset, you’d do that… but why would Melky?

      He also has a vested interest in going year to year, so he’s not going to sign a cut-rate 2 or 3 year deal (knowing that he can’t have his salary cut that much during the arb process anyway). Players in their arb years don’t sign a 2 or 3 year deal with AAV’s somewhere close to what they’re making in arb anyway, they sign a 4-6 year deal that buys out all the rest of their arb years but also buys out a year or three of free agency, at escalating backloaded values that would approximate what they’d make as premier free agents anyway. The team saves a little bit on total AAV’s by backloading the deal and pinching pennies on the initial years, and the player gets the piece of mind of a lengthy contractual obligation and a free agent year right around the middle of his prime.

      Neither the team nor Melky benefits much from a long-term deal now, IMO, unless someone is totally ripping off the other party, which is unlikely.

      • pete says:

        true. it just never occurred to me i guess that melky would be the kind of guy who could really be on top of his financial game. something about him screams “take financial advantage of me!!!” to me, lol

      • Mike Axisa says:

        I always thinks it make sense for players to take the money ASAP. If the Yanks approached Melky with a 3 year, $9M deal, he should absolutely take it. Grab that big payday before it’s gone.

        Look at Longoria. He gets crushed because he sold himself short with that contract, but you know what? He’s set for life at age 23. There’s something to be said for security.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          If you’re even mildly capable of managing your finances, most guys with a 4-5 year deal should be “set for life.” That doesn’t mean you sell yourself REALLY short, long-term security or not.

          • Zack says:

            Offered a contract 17.5m guranteed (up to 47m total) 6 games into your career, but you have to accept that

            • JMK aka The Overshare says:

              Eh, I understand that reasoning, really, I do. Money, despite its benefits, I think at a certain point, shouldn’t become a determinant. He wanted security, is still getting close to $50 million dollars, and claims to like the area.

              Buuuut…even though he’s getting tremendous security, he’ll in all likelihood be severely undervalued for most or possibly all of his contract, assuming he continues to be a top 3B.

              Say he waits out until arb., makes a big raise, hits free agency and probably makes double the money for at least 6-7 years. He still gets great money and long-term security.

              If he’s happy with the decision and if he cares more about security and thinks $50 million is nothing to complain about (and it certainly isn’t), that’s awesome and I respect the decision.

              If I had $50 million dollars, I don’t think the urge to make $5 million more would be paramount to other things, so I understand and on some level agree; I also understand that there’s a benefit to the extra $5 million. Poor comparison, I know.

              I just don’t think it’s wise if you’re more concerned about your true market value for the length of the deal. He seems not to be, so good for him.

              /end rambling

              • Ed says:

                Remember that at the stage of his career he was at, he was only going to make around $400k a year, and that’s assuming he didn’t get demoted. It was going to be several years before he had a chance to make millions, and no guarantee that he’d get a multi-year offer when he reached that stage.

                He’d be an idiot to undervalue himself that much if he was close to reaching arbitration. However, when he’s only 6 games into his career, the risk of the deal being bad for the Rays was much higher than the risk of it being bad for him.

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  He waits a few years for arbitration. I understand the risk but I think you’re inflating it. Chances are pretty good that he’d continue to hit around .300 with 35 HRs all the way to arb. No way to know it of course, we’re using hindsight, thus the risk for the Rays. I just think the amount of years is the problem. If he were very confident in his ability, and I assume he is, he must know that he’d be way undervalued in the deal.

                  He would have hit arb. in 2011. So really, the tradeoff is he’s okay making $400,000 for 2008,2009,2010 to make $100 million (maybe more?) in a 7-year deal through 2018?

                  Instead he makes $50 million through 2017 but makes it in 2008,2009, 2010, etc.?

                  I’m not necessarily criticizing the decision for it being “stupid,” I just think the amount of years render his talent and production really unfavorable for Longoria.

                • “Chances are pretty good that he’d continue to hit around .300 with 35 HRs all the way to arb.”

                  He had never hit .300 with 35 HRs at the time he was offered that contract.

                  I don’t think anyone’s inflating the risk, I think you’re underestimating the risk and the value of getting that guaranteed money. You’re letting yourself be unduly influenced by that possible payday he’s delaying. Delaying – not forfeiting.

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  You may be correct. I think for him it’s worth the risk to wait until arb and collect a big paycheck for a lot of years than take the guarantee of almost a decade and an okay paycheck if he’s confident in his abilities.

                  The risk is definitely bigger for the Rays, no question. I was wrong to say the risk is inflated—it’s not.

          • Ed says:

            About the value of long term security:

            One in five position players play only a single season.

            Less than half of all players last 5 years.

            From your second season on, the odds of any season being your last one are 11%.

            The overall average career is 5.6 years.

            More details

            I’d imagine that a top draft pick like Longoria is significantly better odds than that, but the odds are still significant that he never gets a big payday.

            • JMK aka The Overshare says:

              All of that is true, but 99% of baseball players do not have his ability—your data is more relevant to the average baseball player. He’s nowhere close to average.

        • Yes, but there’s a difference between 3/9M and 6/47M.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            Of course, but there’s a big difference between $9M and zero. Melky’s not exactly setting the world on fire, it’s not hard to envision a scenario in which he’s back in Triple-A at some point next year.

            Anyway, that’s just my belief. I hate seeing guys pass up gigantic amounts of money like that.

            Heh, of course there is no financial screw up like a Juan Gonzalez screw up.

        • Tank Foster says:

          Maybe–you’re right that financial security means alot. I don’t know, though, how many 23 year olds can be responsible at handling (preserving) that much money, even with financial advisors, agents, etc., helping them. If I were his Dad, I would have advised against accepting the long term deal and would have tried to get either a shorter deal or just waited it out until the chance for the big payday. Of course, there’s the risk of blowing the knee out and never getting the big payday, but I wonder what contingencies are in his contract concerning injuries and such….

        • Tank Foster says:

          And by the way, even if you ARE fiscally responsible, that $50M doesn’t really set Longoria up for life (as ridiculous as that sounds). By the time everyone takes their cut, and you spread it out over all those years, it’s not as much as it seems.

          Now, if he lives at the standard of a man making $100,000 per year, yeah, he’s set for life. Takes a special kind of person, though, to make all that money and not live a lavish life style.

          • JMK aka The Overshare says:

            The money collects interest if he’s got half a brain. $50 million, if you’re remotely responsible, should last you your whole life.

            • Yup. It’s ridiculous to say $50 million doesn’t set someone up for life. You can’t account for historically epic ineptitude, but it’s much more reasonable to say that amount of money sets him up for life than to say it doesn’t. You can’t rely on historically epic ineptitude as a basis for your argument.

        • Steveospeak says:

          While I understand what you say in that Wang is now wishing the Yanks had offered him a 3 year deal, b/c he won’t get near the money. But there is no way Melky would sign for 3 years $9 million. For one I think he’ll get over $3 million this season. His numbers were pretty good this year I think his Arb deal will be just under $4 million this year. A fair 3 year deal would be for about $15 million. $3.25 mil this year, $4.75 next, and $7 million the third year. That would be a steal for the Yankees even if he doesn’t get any better than he is right now (and even if he has a small regression).

  5. Ed says:

    In 2008, Wang lost in arbitration, and the Yankees made a big deal about saving $600,000 in the process.

    The Yankees didn’t make a big deal about it, the press did.

    Check back to the commentary from Wang’s side about the process. The Yankees made the first offer, and offered more than Wang was going to ask for. Considering how the process worked, Wang’s side decided to ask for more than they felt he was worth just because they had nothing to lose by it. The Yankees had to fight it because not fighting it would’ve just raised the bar for future arbitration cases, both for Wang and for other upcoming pitchers.

  6. Reggie C. says:

    If Chad Gaudin could begin the season as a long man working out the ‘pen, does that mean Ace graduates into 8th inning competition against D-Rob?

    Also, we shouldn’t make the barrier of entry so high for IPK. Why not just let Mitre walk? Triple A still contains an assortment of 5th starter-types. Remember Igawa? Towers? R.Sanchez?

    Letting Mitre walk would make it much easier for IPK to return to the bigs. I have high confidence in IPK’s ability to make AAA hitters look silly. No need for him to skip a $1.25 mm block.

    • If Chad Gaudin could begin the season as a long man working out the ‘pen, does that mean Ace graduates into 8th inning competition against D-Rob?

      I think so.

      Also, we shouldn’t make the barrier of entry so high for IPK. Why not just let Mitre walk? Triple A still contains an assortment of 5th starter-types. Remember Igawa? Towers? R.Sanchez?

      Bringing Mitre back does not raise the barrier of entry for IPK. He’ll still be the first guy called up from Scranton; they’re both already on the 40 man. He’s held in higher esteem. Mitre would slot behind him. Also, Igawa is far below both of them and Towers was DFA’d this week, just to keep you caught up.

      Letting Mitre walk would make it much easier for IPK to return to the bigs. I have high confidence in IPK’s ability to make AAA hitters look silly. No need for him to skip a $1.25 mm block.

      Assuming Gaudin is in the pen, he’s the first guy to replace someone in the rotation. Kennedy is the second. Mitre is the third.

    • Drew says:

      Towers is gone I think.

      Segio Mitre won’t effect IPK’s eventual growth into a Major League starter.

    • A.D. says:

      Basically if the Yankees are higher on IPK than Mitre (which presumably they are) they’re going to call him up before Mitre.

  7. Mike bk says:

    On Mitre are you disagreeing and saying they will pick up the 1.25 option? Otherwise i am confused at saying it will be declined and then giving him the same salary as the option.

  8. KDB says:

    Mitre seems to be able to pitch one-two positive innings each time up before crashing, and burning, fine for middle relief, spot starter. Melky on the other hand is about at his pay limit at 2+ million dollars. I expect a non-tender next year.

  9. Dave says:

    I’m torn about the Melk Man. I’d love to see him in pinstripes for a while to come, but nobody has any clue what his ceiling is or how he’ll improve or if he’ll stay stagnantly developed, etc. Nobody knows. a 3 year/$9MM deal for Melky is going to look bad for somebody in the end. He might very well turn into a guy that his .280 with 20 HR’s and 90 RBI’s a year, plus above-average defense. That kind of line would qualify him in my book for $7MM a year. Right now it’s be lunacy to pay him that, but a year or two from now, it could look quite reasonable. There’s no way of knowing if he’ll in fact become that player or top out now and never be worth more than $4MM a year in his greatest payday.

  10. Balla says:

    If the yanks don’t sign Wang it would be stupid. They have a huge payroll, so increasing it by 4 mil or whatever doesn’t make that big of a difference. Plus with the potential to win 19 games, it’s totally worth 4 mil for any team.

  11. David says:

    “Some feel the two-time 19-game winner could test the open market; others say that his marketability in Taiwan is dependent upon the pinstripes.”

    For most Taiwan people, MLB’s(or the pinstripes’) marketability in Taiwan is dependent upon Wang.”

  12. [...] him, Brian Cashman will look to retain him on an incentive-laden deal. Just a few days ago, I predicted that the Yanks would pick up his option. So much for that. Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, [...]

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