The Old Six Player Arbitration Conundrum


The Yankees have until 11:59 PM, Tuesday to decide which contracts they would like to extend. They face the problem of having six players up for arbitration and all six players are pitchers. I like to think Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman (am I the only one who notices the cliche of the Yankees’ GM being named cash-man) are picking names out of a hat somewhere to decide who to extend, but I don’t think it works that way so let’s take a look at who deserves what.

Michael Pineda is a lock to be tendered. Aside from the couple of times he forgot using pine tar to pitch is illegal and being hurt for half of the season, Pineda demonstrated flashes of brilliance. I mean his talent and raw materials had to be there if the Yankees were willing to move a great player like Jesus Montero. What is he up to these days? Anyway, Pineda appeared in 13 games in 2014 and pitched 76.1 innings. In that brief time, he boasted a stellar 1.89 ERA with 59 strike outs.

We witnessed first hand how shallow, and fragile our rotation is. Numerous injuries left us depleted and searching high-and-low for pitching. In 2015, a healthy 26-year old Pineda who can’t find the pine tar can play major dividends. He will see a major bump from his $538,475 earned in 2014.

Ivan Nova was a part of the rotation that fell apart in 2014. On April 20th he tore his UCL and underwent season-ending Tommy John Surgery a week after. Hal Steinbrenner expressed his desire to have the recovering Nova back in the rotation in 2015. In his short season Nova appeared in 4 games and pitched 20.2 innings. He was far from impressive and posted an 8.27 ERA while struggling to find his command. Nova has the right stuff to be a successful, middle of the rotation guy and will receive an offer higher than or around his $3.3 million earned last season. Nova, 28-years old, has the advantage on his side in negotiations because of the Yanks desperate need for pitching. Also, I will say what we are all thinking and that is that the Yankees don’t care about money despite being relatively quiet so far this offseason.

The other two players up for arbitration that seem almost guaranteed to receive offers are Shawn Kelley and David Phelps. Kelley said, “”I would assume if everything plays out normally, barring any freakish signings or trades, I’ll be back with the Yankees. I’m not worried at all about it, but it’s also baseball, and I’ve been through the process a few times. I know sometimes things happen that you can’t control, but I’m pretty relaxed and just waiting for the process to play out.” Kelley was a key part of the Yankees bullpen last season and appeared in 59 games with 51.2 innings pitched. His 11.7 K/9 was one of the few bright spots for the overall disappointing season. Kelley earned $1.765 million and has expressed his optimism regarding contract talks. Phelps saw split time between the rotation and the bullpen proving valuable. He has the opportunity to compete for a starting spot in 2015 or can once again end up in the bullpen. He appeared in 39 games last season and threw an impressive 113 innings in that time. He is a fundamental, consistent pitcher who will not overwhelm the batters with his stuff but will get the job done. His ability to start or pitch out of the bullpen combined with his reliability make him a lock to receive a contract higher than his $541,425 received in 2014.

The last two players up for arbitration, one of which will probably be non-tendered, are Esmil Rogers and David Huff. Both players were added last summer in an attempt to sure up the shaky bullpen. Huff has the benefit of being a left handed pitcher which proves ideal for situation pitching. He did not disappoint last season in 30 appearances and put up a 1.85 ERA. However, he only earned $505,000 last season which means if offered arbitration there will be a substantial pay raise. Rogers too may be non-tendered because of how non-cost effective his deal may be. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jay’s and in 18 appearances he posted a 4.68 ERA. He earned $1.85 million last season and will seek more this season.

I believe the Yankees should cut ties with a few pitchers and dip into their farm system. There are a few promising pitchers that we have either seen glimpses of or have heard promising things about. We finally saw Dellin Betances hit the big leagues and he came in by storm receiving an All-Star appearance. It might be time for the Yanks to start using the farms again…or maybe call up Roger Clemens.