What the Sabathia trade means to the Yanks

Yanks looking at Zambrano
Is Wilson Betemit expendable?

In the blink of an eye last night, the Yankees became the clear-cut front runners for C.C. Sabathia.

This dance began over the weekend when few were paying attention. The Milwaukee Brewers, it seemed, had emerged as the clear-cut front runners in the C.C. Sabathia Sweepstakes, and last night, just minutes before the start of a thrilling Yankees-Red Sox game and three and a half weeks prior to the trading deadline, the Brewers and Indians consummated what will probably be this July’s biggest deal. The Brewers sent Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and a PTBNL that will probably be Taylor Green, their MiLB 2007 player of the year, to the Indians for three months of C.C. Sabathia.

For the Brewers, the NL’s leading Wild Card team, this move cements their status as a legitimate playoff contender for practically the first time since they won the AL East in 1982. For the Indians, this move signals that the team is in sell mode, and while they may not have done this well this time, they pulled in a pretty decent haul in exchange for a pitcher sure to hit free agency in a few months.

The Yankees, however, are once again on the outside of a blockbuster trade involving a big-time pitcher. Unlike during the Santana sweepstakes, the Yankees weren’t blocked by the Twins’ desires to ship Santana out of the AL. Rather, they opted not to make a potential move. As Ken Rosenthal reported, “the Yankees also were ‘very heavily involved’ in the Sabathia discussions, one source said, but declined to commit the necessary prospects at a time when their 2008 chances are uncertain.”

As Yankee fans are very divided over the direction of the team, certain factions will have a field day with this tidbit. Once again, when faced with giving up some prospects for a quote-unquote proven ace at the time when the Yanks’ pitching is looking rather frail, Brian Cashman and the Yankee braintrust got gun-shy and stood pat. But of course it isn’t as simple as that.

Right now, the Yankees are in the unenviable position of not knowing what’s going on with their team. They’ve dealt with numerous injuries — 60 percent of their starting rotation, most of their starting lineup — and they’re on the cusp of contention, too far out of first place and just close enough to the Wild Card leader to be in it. They don’t know if they should buy or sell; they don’t know what they really need. Some people think they need a bat and can fill in the pitching from the organization; others thing their offense is fine, and they could use a pitcher.

But for the Yankees, they weren’t in a position to make this move yet, and they didn’t have to. They have Ian Kennedy and Dan McCutchen making their respective ways through the organization. They have Phil Hughes and — dare I say? — Carl Pavano rehabbing. By opting not to acquire Sabathia — and we really don’t know how close or far they were in doing so (and it would have cost at least Hughes and more) — they positioned themselves as the leaders in the eventual C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes bound to occupy the back pages after the Fall Classic ends.

I can unequivocally say that Sabathia will not re-sign with the Brewers before testing the free agency waters. Had he wanted to sign without hitting the market, he would have stayed with Cleveland, a town and an organization he has known and loved for over a decade. Now, he will be a free agent, and if the Yankees want him and he wants the Yankees, it will get done. They have millions of dollars coming off the books and millions more coming their way from a new stadium. And the best part of all is that they won’t have to pay twice for the big lefty.

Yanks looking at Zambrano
Is Wilson Betemit expendable?
  • mustang

    I think the Yanks made the right move by not dealing for Sabathia.

    • mustang

      But I hope that “declined to commit the necessary prospects” is not going to be Mr. Cashman slogan for this trading season.

    • RustyJohn

      I concur- if he had another year left on the deal than it is a no-brainer, but with him a FA in a few months, not worth giving up 1/5th of your potential rotation plus lord knows what else for 15 starts, of which he may win 8.

  • Phil McCracken

    Its a bird, its a plane, its Ian Kennedy to save the day!

    I’ve got more faith in Carl Pavano coming back and pitching. He’ll make at least one start this year to prove that he’s worth someone taking a chance on him next year.

    Speaking of which, with the pitching market so thin, has there been any thought to bringing Pavano back with an inexpensive contract? I doubt anyone is going to give him more than a year contract.

    • A.D.

      I think Pavano wants out

      • TurnTwo

        and im pretty sure the yankees want out too.

  • A.D.

    Is there evidence to suggest that CC does want to be a Yankee, I thought he was more likely to go west, towards Cali & where he grew up

    • TurnTwo

      ah! beat me to it by a minute.

  • TurnTwo

    i dont think you placed enough emphasis on if Sabathia wants to be a Yankee.

    i know the Yankees will have more than enough cash to pay him, but ive already read reports from the so-called “friends closest to the player” which said if he hits the FA market, he’d be more apt to hit the West Coast than the East Coast. and he’s received at least one phone call from a former teammate, Kevin Millwood, urging him to take into consideration not just money but family and happiness, and all that crap when he becomes a free agent.

    i agree with the sentiment about not paying twice for the same player in prospects and cash.

    but what if Sabathia has a bad taste in his mouth about NY? would you have paid in prospects to offer him the “pinstripes experience”?

    i know money talks more often then not, but it seems like there are a lot of yankees fans that just assume the Yankees are going to offer him a contract he cant trefuse, and are going to be upset when he signs with like the Dodgers or something like that.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      I may have under-stressed the “if” in this piece, but I’m well aware that it’s an “if” almost as big as Sabathia himself. If he doesn’t want to pitch in New York for the Yankees, then there would have been even less of a reason or need to trade the farm for 73 games of C.C. Sabathia. That’s definitely not worth it.

      The money’s there; if the desire is there on C.C.’s part, he’ll be in New York. If it isn’t, he won’t be. That’s all there is to it.

      • TurnTwo

        i just think a lot of yankees fans are salivating at the amount of money thats coming off the books and setting themselves up for a real big disappointment if/when they dont get Sabathia.

        • A.D.

          I think fans are mainly excited about not over-paying players…they’d be salivating about Sabathia either way!

    • Cathy

      I have a question – what makes you think Sabathia wants to be a Yankee???

      Jon Heyman – one of the few reliable baseball writers around – says the Yanks requested a 72 hour window to make a long-term deal with CC and they were turned down. If he wanted to be a Yankee, don’t you think he would have negotiated with them?????????????????

      The Yanks can go after Bedard or AJ Burnett who aren’t 60 pounds overweight like CC

      and I do think the Yanks think they are in it – thanks to Hank and Hal. Brian “Brainless” Cashman would sell off the whole team, if he could

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        The 72-hour window was not something that Sabathia had any say over. The Indians were the ones who could grant that windows, and the Indians made it clear weeks ago that they would not be granting that window.

  • Four Train

    Wait a cotton pickin’ minute. “Clear cut front runners”? How do you know that’s even the case? Are you suggesting that just because the Yankees have the most money they’re the front runners? Do you know if CC wants to be in a big market, let alone New York, *the* big market? What if he gets real comfortable pitching to those NL lineups? Has anyone asked CC about this?

    I don’t think you can say anyone is a “clear” front runner at this point because his free agency picture is so very unclear right now. Even if they are “front-runners” now, what difference does it make when so much can change by December.

    I think you guys do a *fantastic* job of covering the Yankees and you are one of my 3-4 favorite sites. But, this type of headline writing is just unnecessarily stoking the passions of a Yankee fan base starving for some top quality pitching. No one has any real idea of what’s going to happen at this point.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      The headline reads “What the Sabathia trade means to the Yankees.” You’re critiquing my analysis, not the headline.

      Nitpicking aside, I see your point, but as far as team factors go, the Yankees are the clear front runners to land Sabathia. That’s an assessment I’m making irrespective of Sabathia’s wishes which, as I noted above, count for a lot.

      But right now, four months before Sabathia hits free agency and five months before he signs anywhere, the Yanks are the team at the top of the list to land him. That seems pretty clear to me. I could be wrong.

      • TurnTwo

        yeah i dont disagree with your premise. if it comes down to money, the yankees will land him.

        i just wonder if its going to come down to that.

  • Yankee1010

    The first thing I thought when Sabathia was traded to the Brewers was that it was just about the best result possible. Of course, it would have been great if the Yanks could have gotten him for the likes of Marquez and Hilligoss, but that was never going to happen. Yes, that was a mock WFAN-like trade proposal.

    Sabathia is now in the NL and likely will not affect the Yanks’ postseason chances at all (it’s possible that AL Central teams will receive a boost from not going against CC the rest of the year). There’s also no way in hell that Milwaukee is paying CC what he’s going to be looking for after this year. Also, it’s clear that staying in Cleveland isn’t his top priority because he could have signed a hometown discount deal earlier in the year. That leaves the Yanks as the clear front-runner.

    It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to give away some legit prospects for 2+ months of CC when they can have him for the cost of a late 1st-round pick in a few months. There is a ton of money coming off the payroll this year and a 2009 rotation of CC, Wang, Chamberlain, Pettitte and Hughes would look pretty tasty. Sabathia has been a workhorse and he’s a lefty in his prime.

    Sherman (who I don’t necessarily trust) said that when Cashman took over the full operation in 2005, he had his sights set on this upcoming offseason because of all of the money coming off the payroll and the accompanying flexibility. I think that the Yanks will do whatever it takes to get Sabathia this offseason. I’m fully on board with that instead giving up talent to get him now (or Santana last offseason).

  • dan

    Hopefully whatever deal the Yankees end up signing CC for (assuming they do) won’t be for more than 6 years. He turned down 4 years from the Indians (for how much $), so I doubt he’d take 5. Maybe 5 and a 6th option/buyout could do it. If it’s seven years at top dollar though, I’d pass.



  • LiveFromNewYork

    This will be CC’s big shot at making the big money. Family and location can wait. Make the money and then relocate with the fam to wherever.

    I CANNOT see a pitcher being in this position and thinking “Maybe I want to be warm on the west coast rather than pulling in a bazillion dollars on the east coast.”

    This is IT…this is the big money time. If he says “Money doesn’t mean a thing…” and walks away to warm climes and family times, well that’s just stupid.

    • TurnTwo

      for the amount he’ll make anyway, i couldnt disagree more. i’d respect him more for taking $16 million/year and live close to family than $20 million/year and live across country, or wherever.

      at that point, its really all monopoly money anyway.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        Well I’m sure that your respect is worth 4 million.

        • TurnTwo

          i’m not ignorant to think that any player really cares whether or not the fans respect him.

          my point is that Sabathia comes across as a guy who cares about more than just money, and just because the yankees are willing to back up the truck for him (allegedly) doesnt mean he’ll take it.

          now, if you want to sell the fact that maybe he sees a great opportunity to help build a new grassroots effort in the inner city of NY to kickstart baseball in the african american communities? that i’ll buy.

          but it would seem like he’d be more apt to do that where he himself came from, which is LA, right?

          • Joe

            Nope, Bay area

  • A.D.

    Not landing CC and having him go to the NL is about as good as the Yankees could hope, he’s not going to give the Rays nor the Sox a boost. Paying in prospects for 3 months and then either a monster contract or 2 draft picks (which may not even be 2 1st rounder depending on who signs him) would be redic. Part of the reason the A’s could get so much for Haren was the fact that he’s signed cheaply for a few more years.

    He’s probably going to free agency not matter what, and Millwood’s warning or not, Millwood wasn’t some redic free agent, he signed with Texas who was obviously going no where fast, where CC has the oppertunity to sign with a perennial playoff contenter in the Yanks, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, or some other team, so he’ll be better off than Millwood.

    The Yanks should be able to shell out the money for CC, and if he doesn’t want to go to NY they can go after Sheets. Best to save the prospects for bats (who are generally cheaper prospect wise) who are under contract, with names like Loney, Atkins, Bay, Fielder, Holiday, etc rumored (legit or not) to be available for some package or another, it’s something to be interested in.

  • r.w.g.

    That list of guys you threw out there instead of Sabathia was pretty depressing.

    Either way, NYY couldn’t match the MIL offer — not without giving up players like Montero. And that wouldn’t make sense when CC will be a free agent.

    We could use impact help in the rotation, bullpen, and in the lineup. But with so much money coming off the books at the end of the year, it doesn’t make any sense to gut the farm.

  • Adam

    “For the Brewers, the NL’s leading Wild Card team, this move cements their status as a legitimate playoff contender for practically the first time since they won the AL East in 1982.”

    it was so weird to read that sentence.

  • Sam

    I highly doubt the Yankees ever had a shot of getting Sabathia, nor did they really want to. I also think it’s pretty wild speculation on your part to say that the Yankees are clear front runners, considering that there are a handful of teams that could offer C.C. a lot of money and I haven’t heard him expressly say that he wants to play in the Bronx.

    Anyways, it’s pretty likely that Rosenthal’s “source” was a Yankee source, and if you know anything about the trade deadline, it’s that there are tons of “sources” who leak things to the media in order to make their team look good in the eyes of the fans. You want to hear that the Yankees are in the thick of every trade, so trust me, there will always be a source to tell you that we were heavily involved.

    Anyway, I’m not a pessimist or anything, I’m just a guy who’s been a little tired for the last seven years of this Yankee fan mentality where any guy testing the free agent market automatically will want to go to the Yankees because we have the most money. It’s the reason we wind up with these players who can’t take media pressure, can’t cope with the loudness of Yankee Stadium when it’s packed to the gills, and can’t take the boo-birds when they have a lousy game. I’m not saying it’s fair, or that it’s right, but Yankee players need to be tough-skinned.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      I’m just a guy who’s been a little tired for the last seven years of this Yankee fan mentality where any guy testing the free agent market automatically will want to go to the Yankees because we have the most money.

      As I’ve said more than once in the post and this thread, Sabathia’s arrival in New York is entirely contingent upon what he wants to do. All I’m saying is that, this year, with so many contracts coming off the books, money is no obstacle, and right now, so early on, the Yanks are the front runners.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        I agree that calling the Yankees front runners based purely on cash available seems a bit misguided.

        • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

          If money is the only factor, then Ben is correct. We’re not inside Sabathia’s head, so we can only go by the obvious.

    • A.D.

      Fan Mentality or not, its fairly true, the Yanks have landed most of the big free agents they wanted.

      On top of that fan mentality & most money isn’t the reason these guys “can’t take the pressure” sure signing a big money deal will put more spotlight on them, but it would not matter where, look how Schmidt or Zito have done nothing for their teams and the fans don’t like it, I bet they’re punchlines in LA & SF.

      In terms of big free agents:
      Giambi: despite the roids and the injuries, and getting it from the fans and baseball he’s performed of late, yeah they overpaid, they bought the best all around hitter the game at the time and got a slugger with a low BA and a good OBP

      Mussina: He hasn’t won a CY Young or made it to an ASG, he had a terrible 2007, but all in all he’s been rock solid in their rotation ever since they picked him up, yeah we joke about how hes particular, but I think he’s “handled” everything

      Sheffield: Productive why he was here, got some decent prospects in return

      Damon: Performed just fine other than a slow start last year and having to move to LF as his CF skills diminshed

      Pavano: the big goat, who knows if he would have handled the pressure or not, he’s just been hurt

      Farnsworth: The one case that could be made that he’d be better off with the Tigers or Braves, or just a smaller media market with less pressure

      Karsay: constantly injured

      I’m probably forgetting some players, not going into the A-Rod, Pettite, Clemens 2nd time around singings since they already performed with the Yanks but then some of the top cantidates for Bronx underperforming:
      Randy Johnson
      Aaron Boone (small sample)

      all came from trades, and thus were not just chasing cash

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    I have never seen the term “quote-unquote” in print, I have no idea why I find that so cool.

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      I’m wondering why one would invoke that phrase when one could just throw *actual* quotes around the words “proven ace”….? ;)

      • The Fallen Phoenix

        Emphasis, I’d imagine.

  • E-ROC

    Ben, do you have any projections for the ’09 rotation and possibly the lineup?

    • Kay Sturns

      the depth chart might look like:

      Cy Wang

  • Phil McCracken

    Who’s to say that the Brewers won’t just keep him as well.

    They are putting money into Braun and Hart. If they let Sheets go and trade Prince, they’d be able to handle Sabathia.

  • steve (different one)

    once the Brewers put LaPorta out there, there was no chance of the Yankees landing him.

    it just wouldn’t have made sense.

    LaPorta = Jackson + Montero? is that fair?

    plus 2-3 additional prospects to round out the package.

    • cult of basebaal

      i agree with the first statement, not sure about the 3rd.

      jackson or montero < laporta < jackson + montero

      i think that a reasonable trade for sabathia could have been constructed around a core of hughes and one of either jackson or montero + more non-elite but not sucky stuff. i just don’t think that’s a very good idea for the yankees right now.

  • Joe

    Whats funny is that, it’s not just 87 million coming off the books, it’s really about 120 million. I’m not exactly sure how the luxury tax works, but money paid into revenue sharing, which I think is part of the luxury tax is directly related to payroll. No luxury tax, much more free money

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    Three run HHR by John Buck, Royals lead 6-3 in the top of the 10th.

  • Rich

    Excellent points, Ben.

    The Yankees could not have chosen a better location for Sabathia to be traded to, and given the inconsistency of their offense (and the uncertain duration of the Damon and Matsui injuries), it would have been foolish to give up top prospects for a three month rental.

    All things being equal, Sabathia will be a member of the Yankees’ 2009 starting rotation.

  • daneptizl

    The offseason is going to be a doozy.

  • Whitey14

    Good piece Ben, even this dumb ass Sox fan knew what you were trying to say and I couldn’t agree more. If Carston Charles wishes to be a yankee, then a yankee he will be. They won’t let mere money keep them from getting a lefty ace in his prime, nor should they.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    it IS about the money! (most of the time anyway)

    of course the Yanks are the frontrunners. they have the highest revenue, the highest payroll, a new stadium opening, and a ton of $ coming off the books.

    like Lonestar said, “We’re not just doing it for money… we’re doing it for a SHITLOAD of money.”

  • Malcard89

    i find it odd that no one is talking about the obvious front runners now to sign sabathia long term… the brewers!! u dont trade matt laporta and 2-3 other respectable prospects for a 3 month rental without the idea of keeping sabathia long term. the brewers will pony up whatever sabathia asks for, and if they dont, then they’ve made a horrendously stupid move for the future.

    • Yankee1010

      Yes you do.

      If you think the Brewers have the money, or the inclination, to sign Sabathia long-term, you’re out there in the ether.

      The Brewers are not a team that is going to compete year-in and year-out. Sheets is going to be a free agent after this year and they’re probably not going to be able to afford him either. LaPorta is blocked by Braun and Fielder at the big league level. It makes perfect sense for the Brewers to go for it this year with a staff headed by Sabathia and a healty (at least for now) Sheets. They’ll get the 1st round pick and a supplemental pick when Sabathia leaves as a free agent.

  • scott

    Did anyone see what sabathia did under the pressure of the postseason last year?? this guy is not worth 18-20 mil a year. I am not sure any pitcher is unless it is for a 4 year contract tops…cleveland had the right idea walking away from this guy when he turned down their 4 year deal. Sabathia is not the talent equivalent of Johan Santana and based on numbers would only be the #2 on the yankees staff to a healthy Chien Ming-Wang.

    • Yankee1010

      I love Wang as much as the next guy, but you’re just wrong. Sabathia’s numbers are better than Wang’s and Sabathia has the stuff to completely dominate another team’s lineup. There is something to be said for not walking anybody and not letting the other team even put the ball in play.

      You’re going to evaluate Sabathia strictly based on last year’s postseason? How would Wang do when evaluated like that? Again, I love Wang, but I don’t know what “numbers” you’re looking at.

      CC is also left-handed, which can’t just be dismissed as immaterial when the Yanks play in Yankee Stadium.

  • JeffG

    Is anyone dissapointed that we are sending Ponson out to face Kazmir?

    • Yankee1010

      I think it’s Pettitte against Kazmir and Ponson against Jackson. I am a little worried about this set with the Rays. Hopefully, Pettitte pitches a gem and the Yanks are patient with Kazmir and can get some runs across against the bullpen. It would also help if Girardi trusted at least some lefties against Kazmir. There’s no need for the Oliver Perez lineup again.

      As for Ponson, I don’t have much hope for him. Hopefully, the Yanks bash Jackson. I’m not envisioning the Yanks winning a pitcher’s duel in that one.

  • Pingback: River Ave. Blues | Open Thread: To buy or sell at the deadline

  • Pingback: River Ave. Blues | Indians turned down Yanks’ window request in Sabathia sweepstakes