When a player and a team go to arbitration and one side loses, it’s common practice, which was the case this past week when the New York Yankees won their arbitration case over All-Star setup man Dellin Betances.
Betances asked for $5 million in salary for the 2017 season and the Yankees ended up having to pay $3 million. Once the hearing was over, Betances accepted the ruling and was ready to go back to work and look to pitch to his All-Star form.
That was until Yankees president Randy Levine opened his mouth and decided to take his shots at Betances and his agent, Jim Murray, when Levine spoke with the media in a conference call this weekend, stating that Betances didn’t have the numbers deserving of the salary he was looking for and that Betances and his agent needed to come back to reality when they were asking for a price in salary.
Pretty harsh words from a team president towards someone who has been as dominating of a reliever as there has been in MLB over the last three seasons. If anything, you’d think Betances had left the Yankees and signed elsewhere in the league. These kind of comments are similar to the ones Levine made after Robinson Cano left to sign with the Seattle Mariners before the 2013 season and Levine said that Cano wasn’t the kind of player worth getting a 10-year contract.
That you’d expect since Cano bolted out of New York. But Betances is still in New York and will be back this season to pitch for the Yankees. Actually, Betances will be a Yankee for quite some time since he’s under the Yankees control until the 2020 season, so that is what makes Levine’s comments about him so bizarre and off guard.
Now, by the time Betances is set to hit the free-agent market, time might have healed the wounds of this and Betances will have forgotten the comments made by Levine when it comes time for the All-Star reliever to negotiate a new contract.
But judging by Betances’ reaction to Levine’s comments, he’s not getting over the comments anytime soon. While speaking to the media in Tampa, Betances said that he expects free agency to be much easier when it comes, which leads most to believe that he’s already thinking that far ahead and potentially, thinking of bolting New York because he sees the Yankees as not valuing what he’s worth to the franchise.
Not good, and this is Levine’s fault.
Betances feels like he’s underpaid and Levine treated him like he should be grateful to even be getting paid. Now in fairness, players in MLB make a very good living and $3 million is a lot of money. But the fact that Levine made public comments to criticize a current player and their agent for asking for a $2 million bump in pay; a bump that was extremely justifiable considering how well Betances has pitched; was not good.
It’s not good going forward for the Yankees if they want to keep Betances after 2020, especially if someone like Levine says that Betances isn’t worth what he’s asking for. Sooner or later, Betances is going to get the payday he’s looking for, and it might not be in New York.
And if the Yankees do lose Betances in the future, the fault will be on Levine, and rightfully so.