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Saturday, December 7
Updated: December 8, 5:00 PM ET
Clemens offered arbitration; Mendoza, Stanton gone

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Yankees cut ties with two relievers who contributed to their recent success, deciding Saturday not to offer salary arbitration to left-hander Mike Stanton and right-hander Ramiro Mendoza.

Stanton surprised
Mike Stanton was starting a weekend snowboarding trip in the Adirondacks when his phone rang.

The New York Yankees, the team he helped to three World Series titles and four AL pennants in six seasons, had called his agent at 5:15 p.m. Friday with an ultimatum: accept a $4.6 million, two-year contract in the next 15 minutes or be cut loose.

New York made identical offers to Stanton and two other free agent left-handed relievers: Chris Hammond and Mark Guthrie. First one to accept gets it.

Stanton didn't even both to respond, and his career with the Yankees came to an end when Saturday's midnight deadline passed for free agents to re-sign with their former clubs. Hammond's agent and New York then started working on a two-year contract for about $5 million.

''I don't think I've done anything to take a paycut,'' Stanton said Sunday. ''The way they rang it down, it was a shock.''
-- The Associated Press

Hours before the midnight deadline to either re-sign or offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents, New York extended arbitration offers to six-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and backup third baseman Ron Coomer.

Clemens and Coomer have until Dec. 19 to accept or reject the offers and can re-sign with the Yankees through Jan. 8.

New York also agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract with backup catcher Chris Widger, who hit .297 with no homers and five RBI in 64 at-bats. The Yankees were said by the agent for another player to be negotiating a two-year contract with left-hander Chris Hammond, who pitched for Atlanta last season. The Yankees were offering about $5 million.

In addition to Stanton and Mendoza, New York declined to offer arbitration to backup infielder Alex Arias and backup outfielder John Vander Wal.

Stanton, 35, was the Yankees' primary left-hander in the late innings in recent years and took on even more importance last season, when closer Mariano Rivera went on the disabled list for extended periods. Stanton was 7-1 with a 3.00 ERA and six saves in 78 innings.

New York offered a $5 million, two-year contract to Stanton on Friday and gave his agents 15 minutes to accept or reject the offer, a Yankees official said on the condition of anonymity. The Yankees, the official said, extended similar offers to Hammond and Mark Guthrie, another free-agent left-hander.

Mendoza, 30, was 8-3 with a 3.44 ERA and four saves, pitching 91 2-3 innings over 62 games. He has been versatile, able to start or reliever, but has missed time because of injuries.

New York, seeking to cut payroll, wasn't sure until this weekend it would offer arbitration to the 40-year-old Clemens, coming off a $30.9 million, two-year contract. He was 13-6 with a 4.35 ERA last season in 29 starts, and needs seven wins to reach 300.

''I am optimistic that we will reach an agreement before Christmas,'' said Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks.

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