Arbitration Filing Deadline: Yankee News and Reactions

It’s arbitration day! I tracked everything relevant to the Yankees, including all of their settlements and the impact it has on the payroll, below. It’s important to remember that the arbitration system is generally bad for players — it results in less salary than they’d generate on the open market, but that’s the system we have right now. I can’t change it. So just bear that in mind when I say that this is good or bad for a player below.

Let me know if I missed anything and I’ll add it. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Arbitration Outcomes

The Yankees had nine arbitration-eligible players. I’ve broken it down by the three I think were the biggest and most interesting of that group — Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, and James Paxton — and then added brief notes for the remaining six at the bottom.

1. Judge Gets a Huge Raise: Well, Aaron Judge certainly got himself a raise. According to Mark Feinsand, the two parties agreed to a $8.5 million contract today. Per Bryan Hoch, that’s a 1142.15% raise, which is nice. It’s also not enough. Two things can be true at the same time, but as I said above, this is the system we have. And it’s certainly better than this:

Judge, of course, is the Yankees’ best player, and the days are gone where he will provide absolutely ridiculous “surplus value” for them now. The Yankees’ right fielder is a career .273/.394/.558 (152 wRC+) with 110 HR and great defense since he stormed onto the scene in 2017. (Judge outperformed his $6.4 million MLBTR prediction by quite a bit, which is great.)

For what it’s worth, Judge is still below Mookie Betts, who earned $10.5 million in his first year of arbitration, but this is quite a good showing for him. He will make a lot of money over the next few years, and even more if he stays healthy for a full 162.

2. Gary Sánchez Falls Settles for Less Than Predicted: According to MLBTR, Sánchez was going to get around $5.6 million in arbitration this year. He settled for an even $5 million, per’s Mark Feinsand. That’s just over 10% less than expected, but it’s a very good deal for The Kraken nonetheless: it’s the second-highest salary for a catcher in his first year of eligibility. For good reason, too, as Sánchez is a career .246/.328/.518 (123 wRC+) hitter with 105 HR, which is good for any position but exceptional for a catcher.

The knocks against Sánchez, loathe as I am to admit, are twofold: 1) he’s obviously streaky, 2) his defensive value is debatable, though I maintain it’s much better than commonly thought, and 3) he’s injury-prone. Still, though, that obviously was not enough to get in the way of a huge, well-deserved raise for Gary.

3. James Paxton: Big Maple was projected to get $12.9 million for the 2020 season but actually settled for a bit less at $12.5 million. (Jon Heyman) I wrote about Paxton’s past performance and future as a free agent following the season in both today’s mailbag and last week’s, so check those out if you’ve missed them. This feels like a pretty fair settlement honestly, and it answers the question over a Paxton extension. If he’s going to be in the Bronx past 2020, it will likely come via a reunion in free agency.

4. The Six Remaining Players: While these were the big three fish in today’s Yankee sea, there were still six other arbitration-eligible players on the Bombers. Here is where things stand now as of the deadline:

  • Luis Cessa and the Yanks agreed to a $895,000 salary for the 2020 season and avoided arbitration. (Robert Murray) Cessa, of course, was actually good last season despite what the Twitter masses will say.
  • Chad Green and the Yanks agreed to a new $1.275 million deal for 2020. (Jon Heyman)
  • Jonathan Holder and the Yanks agreed to a $750,000 salary for 2020. (Robert Murray) Hopefully Holder has a sturdier 2020 than his up-and-down 2019 season.
  • Tommy Kahnle and the Yankees agreed to a $2.65 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) That’s $400,000 under his MLBTR prediction, but still a pretty nice salary for Tommy Tightpants.
  • Jordan Montgomery and the Yanks agreed to a new $805,000 deal. (Jon Heyman)
  • Gio Urshela beats the projection and got himself a nice deal. Hewas projected to get $2.2 million by MLBTR but he settled for $2.475 million, beating the projection by 10%. (Joel Sherman) That’s great news. It’s a nice raise for Urshela, who stormed onto the scene to hit .314/.355/.534 (132 wRC+) in nearly 500 plate appearances last year. Good for him. He deserves it. Now let’s hope he goes out there and earns himself another nice raise for 2021.

What Does It Mean for the Payroll?

A few weeks ago, I went into some depth about the current state of the Yankees’ payroll situation. Of course, that included assumptions about the arbitration settlements. We don’t need to assume any more! Exciting. Here’s where things stand now:

Add that all up and you get just over $261 million (if you use the exact figures linked in the spreadsheet). Subtract the $3 million owed to New York from Miami for Stanton, and you get a total of $258,061,667 for the 2020 season as of right now. Of course, that’s pending any other moves (and including Gardner). The Yankees are still above the third tier of the luxury tax and will need to trade Happ if they’d like to get under it.

Around the League

This is always a really busy day around the league, so I figured it would be useful to highlight some of the bigger developments down below. I chose folks to here who are either relevant to the Yankees in some way or just notable generally. ESPN has a very helpful tracker that lists all of today’s agreements. Go check that out if you don’t want to miss anything at all.

Here are the big stories of the day:

  • Mookie Betts and the Red Sox agreed to a $27 million salary for 2020. (Jeff Passan) That’s an arbitration record, and an extremely well deserved one. The question now is whether or not he’ll play out the year in Boston. Jackie Bradley Jr. settled with the Sox as well, he for $11 million. (Julian McWilliams) We’ll also have to see if he stays around at that salary, though I think it’s a fair one.
  • Kris Bryant and the Cubs agreed to a $18.6 million salary for 2020. (Jeff Passan) Remember, Bryant’s grievance against the Cubs — which he is (correctly, in my opinion) alleging service time manipulation — still needs to be settled. That should happen soon. Javier Baez settled for $1o million and Kyle Schwarber settled for $7 million in other Cubs notables.
  • Noah Syndergaard and the Mets agreed to a $9.7 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) In other Mets news, Marcus Stroman settled for $12 million. (Jon Heyman)
  • Carlos Correa and the Astros agreed to an $8 million deal. (Brian McTaggart)
  • Cody Bellinger shattered the MLB record for first-year arbitration players, earning $11.5 million next year. The Dodgers also agreed to terms with Corey Seager, who will earn $7.6 million next year. (MLBTR)
  • Francisco Lindor and Cleveland agreed to a $17.5 million salary. (Bob Nightengale) Mike Clevinger signed a $4.1 million salary. (Ryan Lewis)
  • Josh Hader and the Brewers could not come to an agreement. They will go to arbitration. (Andrew Wagner) Probably because of the lack saves factor, much like the Yankees and Betances back in the day. (Andrew Wagner) (Note: I am an idiot. Hader was their closer last year and logged 37 saves, so it’s nothing like the Betances situation. I probably should have checked that before posting!)
  • Tyler Glasnow and the Rays settled for a $2.05 million salary for 2020. (Mark Feinsand)
  • Ken Giles and the Blue Jays agreed to a $9.7 million salary for 2020. Saves count for a lot! (Scott Mitchell)
  • Trever Bauer and the Reds agreed to a $17.5 million salary for 2020. (Mark Feinsand) This marks a clean break for Bauer, who has gone before an arbiter each of the last two years before hiring a new agent for this season.
  • David Peralta and the Diamondbacks agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension. (Jeff Passan) His is a very cool story.
  • Jonathan Villar and the Marlins agreed to a $8.2 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) The Orioles DFA’d their best player over that. Meanwhile, their ZiPS projection looks to be about 55 wins. Ouch.


Mailbag: Stanton, Wong, Tanaka/Paxton Free Agency, Curveballs, and What’s Next?


Yankees: Brett Gardner Signing Now Official


  1. MikeD

    The Yankees and Paxton can still come to an agreement on a long term deal before spring training, or even after the season starts. Not uncommon, yet short of an injury fear, which is always quite real for pitchers, there’s probably less incentive for Paxton to negotiate a longer term contract. He’s made it this far, he might as well see what free agency has to offer. Probably a lot!

  2. D.B.

    Hader had 37 saves last season. He was their closer. Not a Betances situation in that light at least.

    • Bobby

      Thanks, updated.

    • MikeD

      What could be interesting is I read Hader and his agent may try to inject different metrics in his hearing in an attempt to increase his value. That is exactly what Dellin’s agent attempted and failed at. Hader has the saves, so he’s in a strong position, but the Yankees nasty reaction to Dellin’s attempt indicates MLB teams are none too happy with players attempting this approach.

  3. RetroRob

    Bobby, thanks for the update, Just catching up on these now.

    One item probably worth noting in Judge’s section is his $8.5M contract significantly beats the MLBTR arbitration estimate of $6.4M by $2.1M, or 34%. They’re generally pretty accurate, so that’s a big miss. As future arbitration contracts build off the prior, this will impact Judge’s salary every year. It’s interesting the Yankees agreed to that large of an increase and didn’t attempt to go to arbitration. Judge is great, but all those missed games definitely would have been factored into the arbitration hearing. That may indicate the Yankees want to keep Judge happy (avoid a Dellin situation) and that they’re already looking at maybe a long-term deal. I suspect that may happen next off season, although it’s not impossible they may do it after this season starts so it doesn’t impact their luxury tax hit this year.

    Beyond that, it looks like the total projected payroll is about $3M higher than previously expected based on MLBTR’s initial projections. I believe it was around $259 and now it’s $262. Judge’s $2M higher salary certainly contributed, but it also looks like Gary and Paxton’s salaries are about $1M under. Were the other contracts collectively a couple million higher?

    I’m only focused on it since the Yankees are trying to trade Happ to get under the $248M third luxury tax tier. This makes it more imperative, unless they decide to live above the third step for a year. I’m fine with that, but if they’re going to do that they should be looking to add additional talent on one-year deals so they go in big on 2020 but then can get back below the third level in 2021.

    • Wire Fan

      Is the ellsbury figure accurate as far as LT is concerned?

      He is owed that much, but I believe the LT # is just under 22M.

      • Bobby

        You’re right — dumb mistake on my part. Updated to fix. Thanks!

        • RetroRob

          Bobby, I don’t know what you had for Ellsbury’s contract before you corrected it, but I believe it’s not quite right now. The AAV needs to include his $5M buyout in addition to his seven year contract. That make his AAV $21.86M, or about $700K higher for luxury tax purposes.

      • RetroRob

        I’m not sure as I don’t know what was in the post yesterday. It did seem to me the total numbers were off, so maybe that was impacted by what they had for Ellsbury.

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