The New York Yankees won their arbitration case over reliever Dellin Betances on Saturday and then team president Randy Levine criticized Betances and his agent for requesting $5 million.
The three arbitrators chose the Yankees submission of $3 million but Levine was highly displeased after the decision. He cited that Betances' agent, Jim Murray, spent a large portion of Friday's 90-minute hearing saying that the three-time All-Star setup man was as valuable as a closer.
"What his agent did was make him a victim of an attempt to change a marketplace in baseball that has been well-established for 30 or 40 years," Levine told reporters at the Yankees' spring training headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "And I feel bad for Dellin that he was used in that way by his agent, because anyone who knows about this process (realizes) that the history is very much established -- that $5 million goes to elite closers."
Murray insisted that the fact Betances doesn't pitch in the ninth inning is irrelevant.
"It is like me saying, 'I'm not the president of the Yankees, I'm an astronaut,'" Levine said. "I'm not an astronaut, and Dellin Betances is not a closer, at least based on statistics, not whether he could be or couldn't."
Betances recorded 12 saves last season while striking out 126 batters in just 73 innings. He went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA. In 225 career appearances with New York, he has a 2.16 ERA, 22 saves and has struck out 404 in 254 2/3 innings.
Betances indicated that he planned to move on after the contentious arbitration case. His mindset changed when the New York native heard Levine's comments.
"I was planning on putting everything behind me until I was aware of Randy Levine's comments saying I was the victim in this whole process and saying how much they love me," Betances said. "But then they take me in a room, trash me for about an hour-and-a-half. I thought that was unfair."
Betances leads all relievers in innings pitched over the past three seasons. He said he will consider making himself unavailable to pitch multiple innings on some occasions this season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Betances hasn't declined to enter a game over the past three seasons. Girardi believes the situation will be resolved by the time the regular season arrives.
Murray said hard feelings will remain -- Betances will be eligible for free agency following the 2020 campaign -- due to Levine's public comments.
"As you know, it's not my style or our style as a company to comment to the media on anything," Murray told Fox Sports. "However, we are not going to be bullied by the Yankees' team president. His statements are reprehensible and outright false. His desire to conduct a news conference today amounts to nothing but grandstanding and trying to mislead the media.
"With regards to Dellin, it was very ironic to hear the Yankees' president express his love and affection when he spent the only portion of the hearing to which he contributed, calling this player by the wrong first name. It is Dellin, for the record.
"He then proceeded to blame Dellin for the Yankees' declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history while trying to bully the panel, saying something to the effect that the sky will fall if they rule for the player. He is not going to bully this player."