MLB Trade Rumors released their projected salaries for the Yankees' arbitration-eligible players yesterday. While they are only projections, MLBTR has been pretty accurate with their numbers the past few years. Typically these deals are an afterthought in Yankeeland, but with signs still pointing towards the $189 million luxury tax threshold being the main goal for them this offseason they become much more important. Here's what MLBTR projected for the Yankees' 7 eligible players:
- David Robertson- $5.5 million
- Brett Gardner- $4 million
- Ivan Nova- $2.8 million
- Shawn Kelley- $1.5 million
- Jayson Nix- $1.4 million
- Francisco Cervelli- $1 million
- Chris Stewart- $1 million
That's $17.2 million of potential salary added to next year's total, and when you're trying to cut costs on a team that already has almost $85 mil tied up in 6 players, that can make or break you. The decision to offer arbitration or new deals to these players isn't as simple as it usually is for New York, and they need to be smart about these decisions.
D-Rob, Gardner, and Nova are all no-brainers. The value they provide at the salaries they're projected to receive is excellent, and the Yankees don't have much in the way of readily available replacements for them. Robertson is hands down the best reliever left in the Yankee bullpen and the obvious candidate to replace Mo at closer. Gardner is the starting center fielder and likely leadoff hitter next year, probably the only player on the current roster capable of handling that role. And Nova, even if he only gave the Yankees 20 starts and 139.1 IP again next year, would still be incredibly valuable at less than 3 mil for a team short on starting pitching. For the sake of comparison, the Yanks paid Phil Hughes $7.15 million for his 145.2 innings of garbage this season.
Kelley is also an easy decision to bring back for a mil and a half, but after him the Yankees should think about non-tendering guys and saving themselves a few bucks. Nix and Stewart are perfectly fine as backup players in very limited roles, but there's no reason for them to be used as everyday starters or even regular backups and there's no reason they should be making 7 figures. Their production in 2013 was undeniable proof of that. The idea of paying Jayson Nix $1.4 million next year is borderline crazy and it's the type of money the Yankees can't afford to pay. Same with Stewart. For what they're project to produce, the Yankees are better off giving those 25-man roster spots to Austin Romine and David Adams and redistributing that money elsewhere.
The same could be said for Frankie if the front office decides it doesn't want anymore steroid connections, although I expect he'll receive an offer based on his homegrown status and strong start to 2013. Re-signing him along with the top 4 commits a projected $14.8 million to next year's payroll. That additional $2.4 million saved from non-tendering Nix and Stewart could come in handy in filling out other parts of the roster and would be a much smarter way of spending that money. Those 2, despite being favorites of Joe, are known commodities with incredibly low projected production upside. When every cent counts on the payroll, there's no room for players like that on next year's roster.