Reliever Betances, Yankees argue final arbitration case

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees president Randy Levine feels Dellin Betances was the victim of ''over the top demands based on very little sense of reality'' by his representatives at Friday's arbitration hearing won by the team.

The Yankees beat Betances in the year's final salary arbitration case, and the relief pitcher will be paid $3 million rather than his $5 million request.

''What his agents did was make him a victim of an attempt to change a market place in baseball that has been well established for 30, 40 years, and I feel bad for him that he was used that way by his agents,'' Levine said Saturday after the decision was announced. ''Five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.''

''Dellin didn't have that record,'' Levine added. ''He's a great, elite setup man, maybe one day he'll be a great closer, we hope so. The agent took him to a case in like me saying I'm not the president of the Yankees, I'm astronaut. I'm not an astronaut and Dellin Betances is not a closer based on statistics.''

Betances was prepared to move forward until Levine's comments.

''Saying I'm a victim in this whole process and saying how much they love me, but then they take me into a room and trash me for about an hour and a half,'' Betances said. ''I thought that was unfair.''

A right-hander who turns 29 in March, Betances figures to be primarily a setup man again following Aroldis Chapman's decision to return to the Yankees. New York gave Chapman an $86 million, five-year contract - a record for a relief pitcher.

''They value me as a setup man, an eighth-inning guy, so is it selfish of me to say now, `Hey guys, I just want come in for the eighth inning with no runners on all the time?'" Betances said. ''That's not the player I am.''

Betances struck out 126, leading big league relievers for the third straight year, and went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA and 12 saves in 17 chances.

''I've got to take care of myself,'' Betances said. ''I've got be a little smarter and be able to speak up.''

Betances tried to find a middle-ground salary compromise.

''When I went into that room, I looked them in the eye and said `We don't have to be in this room,''' Betances said. ''There was no coming in the middle for them.''

Manager Joe Girardi feels Betances will be fine in time.

''I think he will be able to bounce back, separate the business from the game, come out and still do his job.'' teammate CC Sabathia said.

The ruling gives teams an 8-7 edge in decisions this year, the most hearings since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994. Players won three of four cases last year. Teams lead 310-231 since salary arbitration began in 1974.

Arbitrators Steven Wolf, Dan Brent and Sylvia Skratek issued heard the case.

New York renewed Betances last year at the major league minimum of $507,500. A setup man for the first four months, he took over as closer after the trades of Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland.

''Three million dollars was a great victory for Dellin Betances,'' Levine said. ''He can now say he's the highest paid first-time setup man in the history of Major League Baseball.''

Since defeating Mariano Rivera in 2000, the Yankees had only one arbitration hearing. In 2008, pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was awarded a raise from $489,500 to the team's $4 million offer instead of his $4.6 million request.

''Hopefully we can have another decade or so before we get put in that position again,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ''It's time to get back to work, that's it.''

Betances is scheduled to throw off a mound during Sunday's first full-squad workout.

Opening-day starter Masahiro Tanaka is expected to throw batting practice for the first time.

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