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Yankees, Betances Headed to Arbitration

Dellin Betances delivers a pitch in the eighth inning.
(Arthur Pardavilla III)

This morning Bryan Hoch tweeted out that Chashman has confirmed the team and RP Dellin Betances will go to an arbitration hearing, rather than work to hammer out a deal between now and when the hearings take place in mid-February. While the Yankees filed at $3 million, Betances countered with $5 million, meaning that he and the team would have had to bridge a $2 million gap between them. While not unheard of – last offseason the team was able to meet Aroldis Chapman halfway on a $4.1 million difference in filing numbers – it appears no such deal will be struck.

This is the second time in as many years that Betances and the team have been unable to agree on a contract. Last year he was offered a $540,000 deal, which he declined, resulting in the team renewing his contract at the league minimum. His refusal to sign that deal was on principle. Betances knew he was worth a hell of a lot more than $540,000 after his 2015 season (84 IP, 14.04K/9, 1.50 ERA, 2.48 FIP), and he wanted to make sure the team understood that he knew that. The move was purely a financial one on the part of the club, but it certainly didn’t foster any good feelings.

We all know Betances is an elite reliever, and in a time where the value of elite relievers appears to be at an all time high (see the respective hauls the Yankees got for dealing Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline last season), it’s not unwarranted for him to be seeking a $5 million deal. Even that would be a discount for the team given his level of performance. However, while it might seem that the FO is being stingy on this one, they have to consider the future as well. After this offseason, Betances is arbitration eligible for two more seasons. $2 million this year likely means at least another $2 million next year, if not more. And the year after that.

If he hit free agency today, we can be sure Betances would be making a lot more than $5 million this season. But that’s not how these contracts work. For now, he’s under team control, and that’s that. In the end, it’s likely that the arbitration hearing will go the way of the team, and Betances ends up with a $3 million deal heading into 2017. He doesn’t have very many career saves (22), and he’s not the team’s closer, two characteristics that these hearings tend to value in support of the player’s case. On top of that, there just aren’t very many non-closer relief pitchers making the kind of money he’s asking for. So for now, it looks like his contract will continue to be one of the biggest steals in the league for the Yankees.

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