Sitrep: We've lasted about 72 hours since news of the arbitration hearing broke. EJ and Dominic had some excellent points Sunday on the matter, but I was indisposed during the podcast, so I'm going to peel off the bandage and see what happens.
To start, mutually beneficial sports deals do not happen in front of an arbitrator. Dellin had every right to exercise the arbitration process; however, actually going to arbitration rarely leaves both sides in a better state. If Dellin's team sought an above-standard contract for a setup man, they needed to find a way to leverage the Yankees into a deal before the hearing occurred. Dellin's team should have known they stood little chance in a hearing, and they should have protected him a discussion that could only distract him moving forward.
Equally though, this is a case where the Yanks should have exercised a little grace. The Yanks had an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to exceptional talent and differentiate themselves from other organizations in proactively compensating talent. Instead, they smacked their star closer on the back of the hand because he asked for more porridge, and then they ridiculed him for being hungry. The pay difference comes down to 0.05% of the Yanks estimated value. This is a bad look for the company, but they've recovered from worse.
I worry more that this signifies a step back for the Yankee organization. For me, watching the 2016 team finally embrace a unified strategy of building for the future satisfied me on so many levels. Superficially, the team's actions last year followed the proven blueprint for developing a dominant roster for years to come, but last summer also revealed clear leadership emerging within the team. Cashman had finally appeared to align the personalities in the organization on a plan, and for the most part, the team seemed to be flowing into a Hal-Cashman-Girardi structure. That structure might not be ideal, but I could see the team winning with that formula because at least it allows for consistent messaging within the team.
As a result, I think it's very telling that the one time the media puts a mic in front of Levine, he grabs it with both hands and tells the world how great he is at his job. It seems crazy, because for the first time in a while, the teams health is improving. Bad contracts are rolling off the books, and the supporting levels are producing big league talent. Levine is not publicly associated with either of those contributions, though, and I think that rattles him. To me, Levine's gloating over the arbitration result seems like a manifestation of insecurity more than anything else, and insecure executives have the means to layer bad decisions for their companies. I take Levine's resurgence as a sign that the front office may not be as steady as I had hoped. Since the Boss's passing, I think this team has struggled with establishing direction at its upper levels, and I think that their inconsistent direction a significant contributor to the team's recent stagnation.
At best, this Betances-Yankees arbitration demonstrates the need for leadership within the organization capable of reigning in stray exec's. At worst, we're witnessing early signs of unsatisfied egos at the higher levels of the front office. Neither one of these issues is immediately concerning as Gary Sanchez's bat or the number 4 starter, but if the team wants to return to dominance, I think they'll need to sort out their front office at some point.