NEW YORK -- Outfielder Aaron Hicks agreed to a $2,825,000, one-year contract with the New York Yankees, who settled with reliever Tommy Kahnle at $1,312,500 in the first deals among the team's eight players eligible for salary arbitration.
New York's luxury tax payroll rose to $124,837,500 for nine players with agreements and Thursday's moves left the Yankees' projected tax payroll at about $178 million -- well under the $197 million tax threshold. The total includes $26 million estimated for the six players still eligible for arbitration, $10 million for the rest of the 40-man roster, $14,044,600 for benefits and a $3 million charge for cash transactions: a $5.5 million payment to Houston as part of the Brian McCann trade, a $500,000 payment to San Diego as part of the Chase Headley and a $3 million credit from Miami as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade.
Hicks spent a pair of lengthy stretches on the disabled list but still managed to set career highs with a .266 average, 15 homers and 52 RBIs in a rebound from a poor first season in New York following his trade from Minnesota. He strained his right oblique muscle June 25 on a checked swing against Texas, returned Aug. 10, then strained his left oblique at Boston on Sept. 2 while making a running catch and came back Sept. 26.
Hicks earned $1.35 million.
Kahnle, with a fastball averaging 98 mph, was 2-4 with a 2.59 ERA in 69 relief appearances last year and made $547,000. He was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 19 along with reliever David Robertson and third baseman Todd Frazier. Kahnle had a 2.70 ERA in 32 games with the Yankees.
Starting pitcher Sonny Gray and relievers Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren remain eligible for arbitration along with shortstop Didi Gregorius and backup catcher Austin Romine. Most are expected to settle before Friday's scheduled exchange with teams of proposed arbitration salaries.