Yanks begin arbitration process

Yanks begin arbitration process

NEW YORK -- The Yankees set grounds for salary arbitration with three of their players on Friday, while avoiding the process completely by agreeing to a one-year contract with Wilson Betemit.

Infielder Robinson Cano and right-handers Chien-Ming Wang and Brian Bruney exchanged salary figures with the club as part of the process of arbitration, though players and clubs may still agree on contracts before a potential hearing date.

The requests filed by representatives for Cano and Wang, two of the Yankees' prized younger components, were separated by $50,000. Cano filed for $4.55 million and was offered $3.2 million by the club, while Wang requested $4.6 million and was offered $4 million.

Cano, 25, batted .306 with 19 home runs and 97 RBIs for the Yankees in 2007, establishing a number of career highs in the process. He earned $490,800 last season.

Wang, who will turn 28 on Opening Day, tied his career high in victories for the second consecutive season in 2007, going 19-7 with a 3.70 ERA while establishing a career high with 104 strikeouts. He earned $489,500 last season after his contract was renewed in Spring Training.

While both Cano and Wang have expressed levels of interest in signing long-term deals with the Yankees, discussions of that nature have not yet opened in earnest.

Bruney, who will be 26 in February, was 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 58 appearances across two stints with the Yankees in 2007. He requested $845,000 and was offered $640,000.

The Yankees avoided arbitration with Betemit on Friday, coming to terms on a one-year contract worth a reported $1.165 million.

A switch-hitting infielder, Betemit was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-handed reliever Scott Proctor on July 31. He mainly filled a reserve role down the stretch, appearing in 37 games and helping bolster one of the club's weaker first-half benches in recent memory.

Betemit earned $405,000 last season. He batted .226 with four home runs and 24 RBIs after joining the Yankees, making nine starts at first base, one start at second base, four starts at shortstop and five starts at third base.

Hot Stove

The Yankees envision Betemit filling a similar role in 2008, as he heads into Spring Training competing with Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan and non-roster invitee Jason Lane to serve as New York's Opening Day first baseman.

Betemit is a career .260 hitter in 409 Major League games with the Yankees, Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. New York had preliminarily considered Betemit as its starting third baseman before Alex Rodriguez agreed to a landmark 10-year, $275 million contract in December.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.