In the wake of Dellin Betances’ unusually public war of words with Yankees ownership in the wake of Betances’ arbitration hearing, a seemingly far more civil salary disagreement between the Yankees and another star was settled on this day in 1935. Long before salary arbitration was instituted in MLB, Lou Gehrig agreed to a $30K contract from New York for the upcoming season. This hefty-for-the-era salary made Gehrig the highest-paid player on the club, though it was still $7K short of Gehrig’s original demand. The Iron Horse didn’t seem too put off by the smaller paycheck, however, as he went on to hit .329/.466/.583 with 30 homers and a league-best 125 runs scored in a season that was, incredibly, a significant dropoff by Gehrig’s standards. He “only” posted 8.7 fWAR in 1935, as compared to his 10.7 fWAR season in 1934…so *clearly* the Yankees made a shrewd move in withholding that extra $7K. Gehrig, undoubtedly embarrassed by his subpar 1935 performance, rebounded for a 9.7 fWAR year in 1936.
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- Jose Bautista was choosing “between five or six places” this offseason before ultimately deciding to return to the Blue Jays, the slugger told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters. There wasn’t too much buzz surrounding Bautista’s market this winter, as he was ultimately able to land only one guaranteed year on an $18.5MM salary, though another two years and $36.5MM could be available in option years. While the list of suitors was “not as many as I was expecting,” Bautista said he is happy to be returning to his first choice team.
- Bautista also expressed some regrets about his public salary comments during last year’s Spring Training camp as well as comments made in private to Jays management. “I think in retrospect – I believe I can speak for myself and not for them – but I feel like I definitely could have handled things differently and maybe things would have played out different….Not necessarily changing the things that I said, maybe voicing them in a different setting and in a different way that might not get misconstrued and misunderstood the way that they did,” Bautista said. A lack of familiarity between the two sides contributed to the situation, he added.
- Rusney Castillo is something of a forgotten man in the Red Sox camp, as ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber writes that the outfielder has no clear path to MLB playing time or even the 40-man roster. Castillo is still hopeful of making an impact, as he is retooling his swing and is enjoying more personal comfort now that his five-year-old son and other family members have been able to leave Cuba to join him in the United States. Castillo signed a seven-year, $72.5MM deal with Boston in August 2014 but has just a .679 OPS over 337 big league plate appearances.
- The Rays essentially made “a coin-flip decision” to draft Delmon Young over Rickie Weeks with the first pick of the 2003 draft, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Drafting Weeks would’ve obviously significantly changed not only the Rays’ franchise history, but likely a good chunk of baseball history over the last decade-plus, as Topkin chronicles the chain reaction of events that would’ve been altered had Young not gone first overall. Weeks, after all these years, has finally ended up in a Tampa uniform after signing a minor league contract with the Rays earlier this month.