The Yankees had five players file for salary arbitration for the 2014 season this week, including Francisco Cervelli, Shawn Kelley, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and Ivan Nova. Before the Friday deadline, Cervelli agreed to a $700,000 contract, Kelley signed for $1.765 million, Gardner for $5.6 million, and David Robertson agreed to a $5.125 million deal. Finally, Ivan Nova signed a one-year contract, meaning the Yankees will be avoiding any arbitration hearings with their players this season.
Nova will make $3.3 million, which represents one of the larger raises the Yankees handed out in arbitration this season. After making just $575,600 in 2013, the right-hander will make an additional $2.7 million this year. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to make around $2.8 million, but he ended up earning $500,000 more than expected. The Yankees must believe that he's going to have a big season in 2014, otherwise they could be regretting their decision to give him such a large raise in his first year of arbitration.
After missing significant time at the beginning of the season, Nova returned and proved to be impressive. He had a 3.10 ERA and 3.47 FIP in 139.1 innings and ended up being worth 2.5 WAR, which translates to $12.7 million. If he can repeat this performance he will be well worth the $3.3 million price tag. According to Oliver, he projects to be a 2.0 WAR pitcher with a 3.95 ERA and 4.06 FIP. Solid, for a back of the rotation arm, but nothing spectacular. Nothing to get excited about.
Right now the Yankees have a rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. It sounds like a good start on paper, but then you have to consider whether or not CC can rebound and if Kuroda will be more like his first-half self or his second-half self. A big season from Nova could seriously save the rotation from being a big disappointment. If Masahiro Tanaka joins them, then Nova will be bumped down and with it, our expectations.
Nova's projections don't look very comforting to Yankee fans if he ends up as the No. 3 pitcher in the rotation. Maybe he can be one of the more impressive No. 4 pitchers in baseball, but anything higher and the Yankees could be setting themselves up for disappointment.
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