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Yankees and Players All Avoid Arbitration! How’d They Do?

Yesterday was one heck of a day to be a Yankees fan as they brought back 2B DJ LeMahieu and signed RHP Corey Kluber. However, there were 8 other important deals the Yankees made yesterday with each of their arbitration-eligible players. Today we’ll look at their 2021 contracts.

The Yankees have agreed to terms with OF Clint Frazier, RHP Chad Green, OF Aaron Judge, LHP Jordan Montgomery, C Gary Sánchez, INF Gleyber Torres, INF Gio Urshela, and INF Luke Voit on one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, thus avoiding arbitration. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 16, 2021
Clint Frazier, Yanks agree: $2.1M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021

Clint Frazier (OF):

2021 Contract: $2.1M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $1.6M – $2.6M

Arbitration Status/Year: Qualified as a Super Two; Year 1 (of 4) in Arbitration

Coming off what has been his best MLB season- by far- Clint Frazier has actually secured himself a solid pay raise that is in line with many other 1st time arbitration eligible outfielders. Comparing to 2020 arbitration contracts, Frazier almost made what Brandon Nimmo made ($2.175M) in his 1st arbitration year while Frazier had less of an MLB track record across the board.

Keep in mind, Frazier has only played 162 MLB games from 2017-2020. While I wish the Yankees had given him more time in the MLB the past few years, this is by all means a great 1st arbitration contract for the budding All-Star outfielder. I’ve been high on Frazier since they got him in 2016 and I really believe 2021 will be his breakout season to cement himself as the starting left fielder for the next 4 years.

Chad Green and #Yankees settle at $2.15M — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 15, 2021

Chad Green (RHP):

2021 Contract: $2.15M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $1.5M – $2.2M

Arbitration Status/Year: Year 2 (of 3) in Arbitration

After the Yankees tried to use Green as an opener in 2019, his numbers (which were dominant across 2017 and 2018) took a bit of a hit while pushing his ERA above 4.00. There was at one point some hope in Green as a starter, but ultimately the experiment seemed to end in 2020 as he didn’t open any games. 2020 was not his best ERA year (3.51), but he did have a great WHIP (0.818) and K/9 (11.2).

Unfortunately for Green, relievers tend to do very poorly in arbitration because of how few innings they pitch. Luckily, the Yankees realize that he is one of the better relievers in the MLB and were able to get near that top figure.

The Yankees and OF Aaron Judge settle at $10.175 million, per source. — Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 15, 2021

Aaron Judge (OF):

2021 Contract: $10.175M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $9.2M – $10.7M

Arbitration Status/Year: Year 2 (of 3) in Arbitration

Most people would’ve expected a bigger raise for Aaron Judge when he avoided arbitration with an $8.5M deal last offseason, but I think this is a reasonable deal given his track record. Playing in just 28 games in 2020, Judge likely would not have made near 50% of games if the season started on time due to injuries he sustained in February’s Spring Training. However, when he is on the field he is extremely productive and great.

This deal definitely favors the Yankees as it also helps to greatly bring down Judge’s price on a 2022 contract in his final arbitration year, but I think it’s extremely fair given the lack of the best ability for Judge: availability.

Jordan Montgomery, Yanks agree: $2.13M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021

Jordan Montgomery (LHP):

2021 Contract: $2.13M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $1.2M – $2.0M

Arbitration Status/Year: Year 2 (of 4) in Arbitration

Montgomery is one of two Yankees to beat the projections that MLBTR put out for this year, even if only doing so by $130,000. Could this indicate that the Yankees are hoping that 2020 was a blip on the radar and Montgomery will be back to 2017/18 form pre-Tommy John Surgery? For me, I’d think so.

While the move for Corey Kluber has addressed the starting rotation, most people (myself included) would like to see the Yankees bring in a proven arm to fill it out. I like Montgomery a lot, but remembering to 2017 is a long time in baseball and with Kluber the Yankees will have two pitchers like that in the 2021 rotation. It’s a risk that could pay off huge or sink the team quick.

Yanks got all their deals done: Gary Sanchez $6.35M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021

Gary Sanchez (C):

2021 Contract: $6.35M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $5.1M – $6.4M

Arbitration Status/Year: Year 2 (of 3) in Arbitration

I’ll be honest, this contract surprised me. I was fully expecting for this to be a case where the Yankees and Gary Sanchez/his agents would be unable to agree on a contract. Like Judge (and with all non-1st time arbitration players) this was a small bump from his 2020 salary of $5M, but still one that I didn’t expect to see go as high.

After putting up -0.3 bWAR (-0.1 fWAR) in 2020, there was good reason to say that alongside COVID and revenue loss, he would be getting offered the same (or a very similar) contract. With the Yankees looking to pinch pennies across the board to stay under the luxury tax, this seemed like a place where they could’ve fought harder to save a couple more bucks.

Two other New York settlements: Yankees and Gleyber Torres ($4 million), Mets and MIchael Conforto ($12.25 million) avoid arbitration, per source. — Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 15, 2021

Gleyber Torres (SS/2B):

2021 Contract: $4.0M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $2.5M – $3.4M

Arbitration Status/Year: Qualified as a Super Two; Year 1 (of 4) in Arbitration

Alongside Jordan Montgomery, Torres was the lone other Yankee who beat the MLBTR projected 2020 arbitration salaries, and he did so by a good margin of $600,000. Gleyber did take a step back from his 2018-19 performances last season, but there are some players a team is willing to look past given the small sample size. Ultimately, with his job at shortstop now more cemented with the DJ LeMahieu deal, hopefully we see Torres breakout as people expected would happen last year.

Keep in mind, Torres is entering his age 24 season! He had his “sophomore slump” as a junior, and as a senior he’s looking to correct the record and fix his GPA. It’s a bold move by the Yankees to offer him as much as they did because this will lead to much higher arbitration numbers the next 3 years, but ultimately the confidence they are showing in him is also great to see.

Gio Urshela, Yanks agree: $4.65M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021

Gio Urshela (3B):

2021 Contract: $4.65M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $3.5M – $5.2M

Arbitration Status/Year: Qualified as a Super Two (in 2019); Year 2 (of 4) in Arbitration

After a breakout 2019 season where Gio Urshela showed that he knew how to hit, and hit well, at the MLB level most people were expecting it to be a fluke season as we’ve seen many times before. Instead, Gio followed it up by posting similar numbers on offense (.889 OPS to .858 OPS; 132 OPS+ to 136 OPS+). One can only hope that this is the new Gio.

His defense has never been a question, and he by all means earned his ~$2.2M raise from his $2.475M salary last season. Great price for a great 3B defender who has had an all-star bat while a Yankee. I also just realized today that Gio Urshela and I share our birthday! That’s fun!

Luke Voit agrees at $4.7M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021

Luke Voit (1B):

2021 Contract: $4.7M

MLBTR Estimate Range: $3.7M – $7.9M

Arbitration Status/Year: Qualified as a Super Two; Year 1 (of 4) in Arbitration

While the Yankees went above for Montgomery and Torres, they found themselves making what looks like a horrible player deal with Luke Voit as he was the furthest (by a long shot) away from his upper-end MLBTR projection by $3.2M! However, that upper end projection was based upon on Voit hypothetically hitting 59 HR’s in a full 2020 season if his numbers continued.

Ultimately, I think this is a another good team and player deal. Luke Voit gets a nice bump in salary going into his first arbitration year (above two highly rated prospects in Frazier and Torres) which will set him up nicely for the next 3 seasons as well.


Total Contract Overviews:

Low-End MLBTR Total: $28.3M (across the 8 players)

High-End MLBTR Total: $40.4M

Yankees Real Total: $36.255M


Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Date Published: January 16th, 2021


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