Arbitration Estimates and the $189M “Goal”

D-Rob could get a 75% raise.
D-Rob could get a 75% raise.

Matt Swartz’ arbitration projection series on MLB Trade Rumors is always fascinating to follow, but never has it been so intriguing until now for Yankees’ fans with the $189M budget in limbo. The Yankees’ edition of the series was released on Tuesday, and the figures are likely to be very close to the final outcome. Thanks to these estimates, the Budget Tracker can now more accurately reflect the amount of money the Yankees have to work with, should they make a serious effort to reach the $189M “goal”.

The model awards $17.2M to the Yankees’ seven arbitration eligible players: David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, Shawn Kelley, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. I had previously been estimating $20M or so on arbitration eligibles, but I did this completely unscientifically with a conservative intent. In the MLBTR piece, Robertson ($5.5M) and Gardner ($4M) make up more than half of the total, while Nova also gets a nice raise to $2.8M. Nix, Stewart, and Cervelli are all non-tender candidates. With Kelley ($1.5M) certainly in the fold in 2014, there is roughly $13.8M in arbitration salary on the books next season. There may be a fraction or none of the $3.4M estimated for the three on the chopping block.

With about $103M in guaranteed AAV salaries and player benefit costs, plus assuming the full $17.2M of MLBTR’s estimation, the Yankees’ have around $69M to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold. That number can probably be ballparked to $70-71M considering the likelihood of some combination of non-tenders. More money could be available depending on the outcome of Alex Rodriguez‘ appeal.

There’s no doubt the Yankees’ have a good chunk of money to spend this offseason, even after assuming a new contract for Robinson Cano. If he gets $25M AAV, that leaves the Yankees with about $45M to play with before any news of the A-Rod case. This is all good news, right? Well, given the holes at catcher, the left side of the infield, corner outfield, and rotation, there may not be enough money to go around if they want to reach the budget goal. Yes, they may still sign guys like Masahiro Tanaka or Brian McCann, but likely not without sacrificing talent at other spots. That is, of course, if ownership believes they can compete at $189M, which remains the biggest question mark heading into the winter.

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: David Robertson) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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