Betances, Gray, Didi among 7 Yanks to avoid arb


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NEW YORK — As the Yankees continue to focus on keeping payroll beneath the $197 million threshold this coming season, they have reached agreements to avoid arbitration with seven of their eight eligible players.

Right-hander Dellin Betances ($5.1 million), right-hander Sonny Gray ($6.5 million), shortstop Didi Gregorius ($8.25 million), outfielder Aaron Hicks ($2.825 million), right-hander Tommy Kahnle ($1.3125 million), catcher Austin Romine ($1.1 million) and right-hander Adam Warren ($3.325 million) have all come to agreements on their 2018 salaries.

NEW YORK — As the Yankees continue to focus on keeping payroll beneath the $197 million threshold this coming season, they have reached agreements to avoid arbitration with seven of their eight eligible players.

Right-hander Dellin Betances ($5.1 million), right-hander Sonny Gray ($6.5 million), shortstop Didi Gregorius ($8.25 million), outfielder Aaron Hicks ($2.825 million), right-hander Tommy Kahnle ($1.3125 million), catcher Austin Romine ($1.1 million) and right-hander Adam Warren ($3.325 million) have all come to agreements on their 2018 salaries.

The Yankees have not announced any of the signings, which have been reported by MLB.com and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Betances and the club were able to find common ground one year after they clashed in a contentious arbitration hearing, after which team president Randy Levine remarked, “I’m not an astronaut and Dellin Betances is not a closer, based on statistics.”

The hard-throwing right-hander, who turns 30 in March, went 3-6 with 10 saves, a 2.87 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 66 appearances. An All-Star in 2017, Betances struggled with his fastball command in the second half and was frequently bypassed during the team’s postseason run.

Gray, 28, split the season between the Athletics and the Yankees, going 10-12 with a 3.55 ERA that ranked 10th in the American League. He was 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 regular-season starts for New York and made a pair of starts during the playoffs.

Gregorius will turn 28 in February and is coming off a season in which he set a franchise record for shortstops with 25 homers, surpassing Derek Jeter’s 1999 mark of 24. Gregorius hit .287 with 87 RBIs in 136 games, establishing career highs in runs (73), homers and RBIs.

Hicks, 28, has played two seasons with the Yankees after being acquired from the Twins prior to the 2016 campaign. A first-round Draft pick in ’08, Hicks is entering his sixth year in the big leagues and has hit .240/.326/.403 with 23 homers and 83 RBIs through 211 games in New York.

Kahnle, 28, joined the Yankees in a July trade with the White Sox, and he made 32 relief appearances with the Yankees in 2017, posting a 2.70 ERA through 26 2/3 innings. He was originally selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Kahnle tosses two shutout innings in relief

The 29-year-old Romine hit .218 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 80 games as the Yankees’ backup catcher in 2017, with the team going 33-25 in his starts behind the plate.

Warren, 30, returned to the Yankees in a July 2016 trade with the Cubs and was 3-2 with one save and a 2.35 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 46 relief appearances last season.

Left-hander Chasen Shreve is the only remaining player eligible for arbitration. General manager Brian Cashman has said that the team remains on track to field a payroll under the $197 million threshold in 2018, thus resetting their luxury tax penalty rate.

Though Cashman declined to provide exact figures, The Associated Press has reported that the Yankees’ payroll is currently projected to be about $178 million, a figure that permits room for more additions this offseason.

Most notably, the Yankees have been in contact with the Pirates about a possible trade for right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole and with the representative for free-agent right-hander Yu Darvish, who tweeted on Friday that the Yankees have yet to make him a contract offer.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.