Randy Levine rips Betances after arbitration hearing, says he “doesn’t have the stats” to ask for $5M

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Earlier today it was announced the Yankees have beaten Dellin Betances in their arbitration case. The three-person panel sided with the team following yesterday’s hearing, which means Betances will earn $3M next year, not the $5M he was seeking. That $3M is a record salary for a first year arbitration-eligible setup man.

Because beating Betances in arbitration apparently wasn’t enough, team president Randy Levine jumped on a conference call Saturday and ripped Betances and his agent Jim Murray for what he considered an unrealistic salary request. A few of the highlights:

Murray told Joel Sherman that Levine didn’t even pronounce Betances’ name correctly during the arbitration hearing, calling him Dylan instead of Dellin. “The Yankees hid behind the system. It is really unfortunate,” said Murray to Sherman.

First things first: the Yankees were not wrong to take Betances to an arbitration hearing. They felt he was worth one number, he felt he was worth another, and arbitration is a collective bargained part of the process. It’s not the team’s fault the arbitration system is archaic and overvalues saves.

Arbitration is an unfortunate part of the game, but it is part of the game. There’s a reason the two sides usually try like hell to avoid it. What is not part of the game, however, is holding a conference call to trash one of your best and most beloved players. That’s total garbage. Betances never once has complained about his role and his heavy workload, and he does a ton of stuff with the team in the community. The guy has been a model employee.

Beating Betances in arbitration should have been enough. Once that happened, the Yankees should have moved forward and worked to repair their relation with Dellin. Instead, Levine went out of his way to kick dirt on Betances and minimize his accomplishments. I’m sure all the young players the team is trying to develop noticed that. The Yankees couldn’t just win and be happy with it.

Then again, I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything different from an organization in which the COO says poor people shouldn’t sit in expensive seats and the owner says we should all just forget about Aroldis Chapman’s history. What a joke.

Must Click Link: The Randy Levine-Alex Rodriguez emails

This is too great. Steve Fishman of NY Mag published some email exchanges between Randy Levine and Alex Rodriguez late last week as part of their big A-Rod feature. Apparently Levine, who is unwilling to fully type out “you” and “are,” frequently emailed Alex after games to offer words of encouragement, stuff like that. Oh, and he also once said Robinson Cano “needs some steroids fast!” He really said that. (Mike Puma says Levine claims it was a “bad joke.”)

The whole MLB/Yankees vs. A-Rod spectacle is pretty much everything I hoped it would be. It’s completely chaotic and both sides look like total buffoons. I can’t believe a team president said his best player “needs some steroids fast!” in an email to another player. That’s hilarious.

Update: MLB to investigate Randy Levine for possible tampering

5:43pm: Levine called MLB and Angels team president John Carpino to apologize for the comment, according to Mark Feinsand. “My understanding is the matter is over,” said Levine. No harm, no foul.

5:30pm: Via Bill Shaikin: MLB plans to investigate Yankees president Randy Levine to see if comments he made at Jacoby Ellsbury‘s press conference on Friday constitute tampering. “Now, if it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a ten-year contract. But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense,” said Levine when asked about the team’s refusal to offer Robinson Cano a ten-year deal. The Trout comment is the one that caught the league’s attention.

Tampering is a pretty big deal; MLB does not like executives talking about a player under contract with another team. I have absolutely no idea what kind of discipline may be handed down in this situation, but Levine’s comment was pretty innocuous. He was using Trout as an example of a great young player more than anything. I don’t know what will happen next, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we never hear about this again. These things tend to happen behind closed doors.

Levine discusses Cano, injuries, payroll

I’m sure you’ve all heard Randy Levine’s most recent remarks.  A couple days ago, he told Mark Feinsand of the Daily News that Robinson Cano was not guaranteed to return next season as a Yankee if the price went too high, and then followed that up with some other remarks.  Here are the quotes along with my two cents.

“Robinson Cano is a great player. … We will sit down and talk to him. Hopefully he’s a Yankee. Nobody is a re-sign at all costs, but we want him back and we feel good about negotiating something with him. But nobody is a re-sign at any cost.”

Randy makes an absolutely valid point.  No one should be deemed a “re-sign at any cost” type of player (except for maybe Mike Trout at this point), even if they are a player that the team hopes to retain.  Personally, I hope Cano returns, but only if the agreement is sensible for the team too.  As great as he is, I don’t want to see something outrageous like ten years, $250M.  No matter what, Robinson is going to get paid.  You don’t have to fret about his future or that of his family.

That said, why is Randy Levine chiming in on this at all?  How does this help contract discussions down the road in any way?  I’m sure Brian Cashman (and by extension, ownership) has a good idea of how they value Cano relative to the rest of the league.  Conversely, I’m sure Roc Nation Sports has an idea of what they’re seeking for their first major client.  I don’t see how Levine fits into the mix.  Let the conversations happen before publicizing opinions please.

“The fact of the matter is, the reason this season has taken some bumps is because we have had an incredible amount of injuries … When our players are together and they’re playing, which has been very rare, the team has been very successful. Since the All-Star Game, we have had one of the best records in Major League Baseball.”

The injuries are certainly a major factor in this year’s struggles.  That said, that’s not the only reason this team has experienced some “bumps.”  Many of the woes this team has experienced were self-inflicted after a very underwhelming off season and trade deadline.  Also, in the spirit of fact-checking outrageous claims, the Yankees are 26-24 since the All Star Break and decidedly not one of the best teams in Major League Baseball.

“Take a look at this year; payroll has never translated into winning. What translates into winning is great talent … If you look at this year, some great stories; the Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates, low payroll teams right in there, possible championship caliber teams. We are taking a look at getting down to 189 (million), which has got tremendous financial incentives under the new collective bargaining agreement. But as Hal Steinbrenner has consistently said and as I have said, it has to be consistent with maintaining a championship team.

At 189, I think we would have the second-highest payroll in baseball. That is a lot of money. We will see what happens at the end of the year. The bottom line is the philosophy of this organization is do whatever it can to win the World Series. That’s what the Boss instituted years ago, and nothing has changed.”

See this is where the Yankees go all Billy Beane and try to reinvent the game using pennies on the dollar.  Look, if the team wants to maximize profits, that’s absolutely fine.  Frankly it’s the franchise’s prerogative.  We as fans may not appreciate that line of reasoning, but we can at least comprehend it.  Baseball is a business, and the Yankees are looking to increase profit.  Don’t feed us crap on top of it though.  Make the moves and just call it for what it is.

$189M is still a very respectable payroll, and it definitely should be competitive with the rest of the league.  Of course, it would have been ideal if the team had phased out some of their uglier contracts a bit more smoothly and tried to sign players to smarter deals heading forward — in other words, gradually reach that $189M objective.  Instead, the team implemented an untimely austerity budget during a period when every other team in baseball seems to be upping its spending.

Also, regarding the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates, they are certainly feel good stories (and low budget teams).  Of course, I don’t think the folks in Boston, Los Angeles, Texas, or St. Louis are feeling all that lousy about themselves at the moment either.

Randy Levine talks to MLB.com’s Barry Bloom

Yankees team president Randy Levine recently sat down for a chat with MLB.com’s Barry Bloom, and the two spoke about a wide range of topics. The new playoff system, the club’s injuries, the 2014 payroll plan, the impact of the New Stadium, a potential sale of the team … all of that and more were discussed. I’d provide a recap of the interview, but MLBTR beat me too it. I’ll just point you to that instead. Levine didn’t say anything juicy or controversial, so you’re going to be disappointed if you were looking for someone to call the team out for their recent poor play. Still, check it out though.

Late-night reading: Levine messes with Texas

If you’re done arguing about the relative merits of Freddy Garcia on a minor league deal and guaranteed money for Justin Duchscherer, take a read through this gem from Jon Heyman. Shortly after Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg took credit for keeping Cliff Lee away from the Yanks, New York’s own club president Randy Levine fired back. “Chuck’s delusional. He’s been in the game for a few minutes and yet he thinks he knows what everyone’s thinking,” Levine said. “I think he should let Cliff Lee speak for himself. He could really impress us when he keeps the Rangers off of welfare and keeps them from receiving revenue sharing the next three years.”

As Heyman notes, Levine is picking up on the fact that the Rangers, playing in the large Dallas/Fort Worth market, collected revenue sharing checks in each of the past three years. While I know some sports talk radio voices have been critical of Levine for engaging with Greenberg, I love these ownership spats. Levine is sticking up for his club and showing that the Yankee brass still isn’t thrilled with Greenberg’s attempts to cast the Yanks as his spunky club’s villain. Let Levine and Greenberg battle it out off the field. On the field, I think the Rangers needed Cliff Lee even more than the Yanks did, and they were left empty-handed on the mound this winter.

Levine: “Cash is doing the right thing”

Via Pete Caldera, team president Randy Levine came out and backed the team’s patient approach this offseason. “[Brian Cashman] is doing the right thing,” he said. “He’s being patient. We have time. We’ll make [the team] better.” This qualifies as news during the slow holiday season, but what did you expect Levine to say? He’s not going to come out an bash his GM for the uneventful offseason.

In other news, pitchers and catcher are just 48 (!!!) days away.