By: Bronx Bomber Ball
On Tuesday evening, the New York Yankees agreed to terms with all but one of their arbitration eligible players, the one being star right-fielder Aaron Judge who is seeking a long-term extension with the club. The Yankees have not gone to an arbitration hearing with any of their players since the 2017 debacle with Dellin Betances. Aaron Judge has requested a salary of $21 million for the 2022 season and the Yankees have countered with an offer of $17 million. If the two sides cannot settle in the middle or reach that extension, they’ll head for a hearing, which due to the delays brought on by the lockout, will likely occur in-season.
As a refresher on the arbitration process, it is a system designed to allow players still under team control (less than six years of MLB service time) to have more of a say in their salaries over and above the league minimums they would receive in their first two or three full season. Players who qualify for “Super Two” status are given arbitration eligibility after the second season, while all others after their third. The MLBPA sought to change the percentage of players who qualified for Super Two status, but dropped that request in early March just before the new CBA was agreed upon.
Tuesday afternoon at 1:00pm EST was the deadline for players and teams to exchange figures, but most of the settlements were not revealed until much later in the evening since many teams had players in action right around the deadline. This year, the Yankees had 13 arbitration eligible players with Lucas Luetge and Tim LoCastro having agreed to deals weeks ahead of the deadline.
Aaron Judge (if not extended), Joey Gallo, Jameson Taillon and Chad Green are all set to be free-agents at season’s end while both Jordan Montgomery and Wandy Peralta will be 4th-time arbitration eligible in 2023. With one of the largest arbitration classes in the league, the Yankees were clearly worried about the raises due to the players above and one can only wonder how much that restricted them in free agency, where their lone addition of significance was bringing back first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The Yankees will now turn their attention to the Judge situation and hopefully avoid another messy arbitration hearing that might rub Judge the wrong way and unintentionally push him out the door at the end of the year. That is a catastrophic scenario the team must try to avoid at all costs – either by giving Judge the new deal he seeks, or at the very least upping their offer closer to $20 million for this season and then going all out to retain him next winter. The last time the team was staring down the barrel of a hearing, they were able to agree with both Aaron Hicks (seven years, $70 million) and Luis Severino (four years, $40 million) prior to the 2019 season, so at the least there’s some precedent to do the same with Judge.