Projecting arbitration salaries

The New York Yankees do not have a large contingent of young(ish) players that are arbitration eligible. But the ones they have are fairly important to the team. Matt Swartz of the MLB Trade Rumors site has worked on a fairly successful model of predicting the arbitration salaries of these players. Swartz’s model accounts for the fact that most of these players will not actually make it to arbitration and are signed to one year contracts. Some are extended for multiple years. It must be a difficult trick of projection. I bring it to your attention only to feature his projections for players on the Yankees to give you a fairly good guess on how much they will cost the Yankees in the coming year.

First, let’s identify who they are. The list includes Casey McGehee and Jayson Nix, both of whom will probably be non-tendered. The rest include Boone Logan, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain.  Chamberlain and Gardner both missed huge chunks of the 2012 season which will hamper their ability to elicit large raises.

Phil Hughes – Brien has already written that Phil Hughes is an interesting question for the Yankees. Hughes had a successful 2012 season and had some moments in the post season. Much of the success of the 2013 Yankees will depend on his fifth of the starting rotation. Hughes made $3.2 million in 2012 and Swartz predicts Hughes will cost the Yankees $5.7 million in 2013.  As Brien has written, to see what the Yankees do with Hughes long-term will be very interesting to watch over the coming months.

Brett Gardner – As mentioned earlier, Gardner’s bargaining position has been compromised by missing most of the 2012 season and then doing very little after he returned. The Yankees have to have a few concerns about Gardner’s offense as he was ineffective against the Tigers when given a larger role in the ALCS (join the club there, though) and 2011 was much less offensively effective than his 2010.  But Gardner’s defense is a known entity and defense rarely goes into a slump. He also brings a speed element to an otherwise stodgy team. Gardner made $2.8 million in 2012 and Swartz has him at the same cost for 2013.  I think he’ll get a token raise to get him to three mil. I can’t see the Yankees offering him more than a one year deal to see what happens in 2013.

Boone Logan – Logan is in his last year of arbitration status and will be eligible for free agency in 2014. Again, it would be hard to think the Yankees will want to extend Logan beyond 2013. He is inconsistent and was out pitched at times by Clay Rapada, the other lefty reliever on the Yankees. Logan had an uneven season. He again posted a huge strikeout per nine rate of 11.4, but his WHIP was still high at 1.373. He did vulture himself into a 7-2 record with a save and led the league in appearances at 80. Lefty relievers, as Rapada showed, are somewhat easy to obtain. Logan made $1.875 million in 2012 and looks to have a nice raise according to Swartz at $2.8 million. Again, don’t look for the Yankees to go beyond a one year deal here.

David Robertson – Robertson is in a good position as the Yankees are unsure about Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano will probably use his opt-out clause in his contract to leverage himself into a better deal. Robertson should not be judged by his save attempt after Rivera went down. He still had a strong season and though it was not as dominant perhaps as 2011, it was quite good. Robertson greatly improved his walks per nine from 4.7 or 4.8 as he posted in his first few years down to 2.8. And though his strikeout rate fell from 13.5 per nine to twelve, his strikeout to walk ration was the best of his career at 4.26. The Yankees control Robertson until the 2015 season and he made $1.6 million in 2012. Swartz projects him to $2.7 million for 2013. Robertson would seem to be a candidate for a team friendly extension if he would take it. He is an important piece for the Yankees.

Joba Chamberlain – Chamberlain is another interesting case for the Yankees. He probably cost himself some money due to his injuries. But overall, he has better velocity than Robertson and in fourteen September appearances (after a admittedly dreadful August), struck out seventeen batters and only walked two. He worked his way up from junk innings and by the end of the season was working again in high leverage situations. He did not give up a run in the post season. Chamberlain can be huge for the Yankees in 2013 if his health problems are behind him. Joba made $1.675 million in 2012 and Swartz only projects him to $1.8 million in 2013. That could end up being a huge bargain which will make future decisions concerning this erstwhile Yankee very interesting indeed.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

12 thoughts on “Projecting arbitration salaries

    • D'oh! Well, if you watch the television in the mirror, they look the same. Thanks for the correction. Text has been fixed.

  1. Phil's the tough one – with his inconsistency, its hard to think of paying him over 5 mil for who knows what in return.

    Joba's easier, but only because his hard times have kept his salary down; if he has a breakout year (and wouldn't that be nice?) he'll be up in Hughes territory.

    • Look at it this way the Yankees were willing to pay Freddy Garcia $4MM guaranteed plus an additional $1.5MM in incentives based on starts if he reached 32 starts in 2012 (which of course he didn't reach). But that tells me that if the Yankees were receptive to paying Garcia a potential of $5.5MM if he started 32 games which is exactly the number of games Hughes stated in 2012. Why would they not be willing to sign Hughes to about a $5.7MM contract for 2013 his last arbitration year.
      I realize I tend to defend Hughes more then most on this board, but generally speaking $5MM plus for a starter generally doesn't get you someone like Hughes. And if the Yankees don't re-sign him now they get absolutely nothing for him in return. Which makes no sense.

      • Good point – although there were hopes Freddy would be a touch more reliable than he turned out to be. Yes – they have to sign him this year; but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a different uniform in 2014.

        • I don't necessarily disagree with you about 2014. The only caveat I would say is that may depend entirely on how he performs up to the 2013 trade deadline. If he pitches lights outs and can get his ERA under 3.90 and cut down a bit on the HR's I can see the Yankees re-signing him. If NOT he will probably be traded at the deadline to perhaps a NL Team with the Yankees getting something decent in return. After all I do think that without question he would have a lot of value to some NL teams that have more pitcher friendly ballparks. But we will have to wait and see I guess.

  2. Actually with the incentives he earned based on starts in 2012 Hughes earned just over $3.4MM

    • Joba's heads been screwed enough with over the past 3 years. Leave him in the bullpen as the potential set up guy or maybe even a closer down the road. Over the last 3 years he hasn't pitched very many innings and any consideration for him to be a starter would require him to be stretched out big time. In 2010 he pitched 71 innings, in 2011 it was 28 inning and this past year 20 innings. Leave him be in the bullpen.

  3. Food for thought. I would much prefer to see the Yankees use monies from any McGehee and Nix potential tender offers to sign Jeff Keppinger. You have to think that McGehee and Nix combined would get somewhere between $3.5 and $4MM for 2013 IF the Yankees were to tender both of them offers. Heck McGehee alone might have been entitled to about $2.7MM plus. That alone along with a 2nd year easy vesting option might be enough to sign Keppinger.

  4. I wonder if there would be any thought to the Yankees letting Logan go and just signing Rapada and if Cabral is healthy pitching him in 2013 as the 2 lefties on the staff. After all there could be a potential savings of about $1.5MM with Rapada and Cabral instead of Logan.