Trio of Bombers say 'no' to arbitration

Trio of Yankees free agents reject arbitration

NEW YORK -- All three of the Yankees' free agents who were offered arbitration rejected it on Monday as expected, but two of them should be back in pinstripes when the team gathers for Spring Training in February.

Bernie Williams, Al Leiter and Ramiro Mendoza each declined arbitration, which they had agreed to do when it was offered to them during the Winter Meetings. By doing so, they extended the negotiating window with the Yankees until Jan. 8.

Mendoza won't need that long, as he agreed to a Minor League deal with New York, receiving a non-roster invite to camp in February.

Williams and Leiter also declined arbitration as they had agreed to do, but the two veterans have not signed contracts.

Williams is expected to sign a one-year deal worth about $2 million, a deal which could be completed in the next week. One Yankees official characterized Williams' deal as "pretty close," but said, "we're not there yet."

If the Yankees don't come to terms with Leiter or Williams by Jan. 8, they will not be able to negotiate with them again until May 1.

Earlier this month, general manager Brian Cashman indicated that both Leiter and Mendoza would likely be signed to Minor League contracts and given non-roster invitations to Spring Training, but the signing of left-handed specialist Mike Myers makes Leiter's return unlikely.

The Yankees must decide on Tuesday whether to offer arbitration to right-handers Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon, as well as left-hander Wayne Franklin. Chacon and Small are considered shoo-ins for arbitration, though Franklin is less of a certainty.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.