The Yankees’ stance with their salary arbitration-eligible players hasn’t changed much since the fiery reaction George Steinbrenner had toward Don Mattingly when the future captain won a then-record $1.975-million award in his 1987 hearing.
The Yankees much prefer the matter be settled without arbitration. The deadline for sides to submit salary figures is 1 p.m. Friday. Dellin Betances created waves two winters ago even though he lost his case. In 2018, the sides avoided arbitration.
Now, Betances has one last opportunity at the process. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season. The Yankees do not have the bullpen glut of prior seasons, so perhaps Betances has an advantage.
It’s unclear whether Betances fits into the Yankees’ long-range plans — or if the reliever even wants to remain — but he certainly is an essential part of the coming season.
Betances made $5.1 million in 2018, a $2.1-million increase over 2017, when he asked for $5 million in arbitration. Yankees president Randy Levine had said that submission “had no bearing in reality,” for a non-closer, and Betances’ agent responded by saying he and his client were being “bullied.”
That exchange still seemed tame when compared with Steinbrenner’s piling on Mattingly after he won his hearing more than 31 years earlier. ‘’He’s like all the rest of them now,’’ Steinbrenner was quoted. “He can’t play little Jack Armstrong of Evansville, Indiana. He goes into the category of modern-player-with-agent looking for the bucks. Money means everything to him.’’
In 1999, future captain Derek Jeter went to arbitration and won a $5-million deal after the Yankees offered $3.2 million. A day later, Mariano Rivera won his hearing, coming away with a $4.25-million contract.
While Betances generally has not thrived when the Yankees have asked him to close, overall he has been effective in spots from the sixth inning on. He was 4-6 with a 2.70 ERA last season and had 115 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.
The other arbitration-eligible Yankees are Didi Gregorius, Sonny Gray, Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino, Austin Romine, James Paxton, Tommy Kahnle and Greg Bird. Gregorius can become a free agent after the season, but the shortstop will miss a considerable part of the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.
CC receives go-ahead. The Yankees said CC Sabathia has been cleared for training and baseball activities following a scheduled stress test. He had surgery in December to clear a blockage in an artery leading to his heart. The 38-year-old lefthander signed a one-year deal in November and announced it would be his final season.