After avoiding arbitration with Francisco Cervelli yesterday, the Yankees moved on to settle with strikeout artist Shawn Kelley on a one-year contract. Jerry Crasnick reported the details on Twitter:
Shawn Kelley settles with #yankees for $1.765M, plus $25K bonus for appearing in 55 games.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 17, 2014
The contract was a little bit more value than MLB Trade Rumors projected; Matt Swartz predicted a $1.5 million contract for Kelley and the Yankees offered a little bit more to avoid the messiness arbitration. It almost entirely negates the $300,000 saved from Swartz's overestimate of Cervelli's contract, but in the grand scheme of things, the extra $265,000 should be chump change for the Yankees.
Despite a 4.39 ERA and 107 ERA-, Kelley was actually far better in 2013 than the statistics indicate. The runs allowed tended to come from relievers following him not doing their job and letting runs score. Meanwhile, Kelley was otherworldly good at stranding runners; just four out of 40 inherited runners scored with Kelley on the mound in relief this year. His terrific strikeout abilities (12.0 K/9, 13th in baseball and better than even David Robertson) came in handy in those situations, as they often prevented batters from even getting sacrifice flies. In a year of dark spots and old players falling apart, Kelley was a rare bright spot: a 29-year-old with major league talent under a few years of arbitration control. He could stand to work on his command somewhat, given his 3.9 BB/9, but bringing Kelley back into the fold is obviously a good move. He very well might serve as D-Rob's setup man this year, and he wouldn't be a bad choice.
Signing Kelley brings the Yankees' payroll by AAV up to $166,854,547.23. With arbitration cases to settle for David Robertson (update: done), Brett Gardner (update: done), and Ivan Nova (update: done) and pre-arbitration coming for numerous other players like Michael Pineda and David Phelps, the Yankees are far from done settling their team. (The full projected payroll is up to about $183.6 million without bonuses; it's doubtful they finish under $189 million.) Hopefully they'll have a Tanaka to add to the mix by next Friday.