Yanks outbidding themselves for Sabathia

Friday Hot Stove Open Thread
Inside the new stadium

On the first day of the free agent signing period, the Yankees gave to CC the biggest contract offer for a pitcher in the history of baseball. The offer is for six years and around $140 million. No one has reported on the exact figure.

This is no small offer. The Yankees have expressed their intentions. They want CC Sabathia, and they will pay through the nose for a chance to land the large lefty. Ed Price, at NJ.com, had the same succinct analysis we’ve been spouting for the last few months:

According to a person with knowledge of the Yankees’ plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the competitive free-agent market, the offer exceeds the record (for a pitcher) six-year, $137.5 million deal the Mets made with Johan Santana after acquiring him before the 2008 season.

Despite the overwhelming offer, the Yankees expect Sabathia’s agents to look around, but the team is confident it will end up with the top bid. Whether Sabathia, who prefers the National League, goes strictly for the most money remains to be seen.

That last line is key. If Sabathia wants to play on the West Coast or in the NL, the only thing the Yanks can do is toss more money his way. The Bombers will always out-bid the next highest contract offer. At some point, it will come down to what Sabathia wants, and at that point, it will be out of the Steinbrenners’ and Brian Cashman‘s hands. That’s a little bit of a harrowing thought.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Doug Melvin sounds like a man resigned to his fate. The Brewers GM was incredulous when he heard of the Yanks’ offer. “It sounds like they’re overbidding,” Melvin said. “If the speculation is true that we’ve offered CC $100 million, why would you offer $140 million? Why wouldn’t you offer $110 million?”

The Yanks are offering up that much simply to blow away Sabathia. If they exceed everyone by such a large margin, the Yanks won’t have to worry too much about the competition.

Meanwhile, Hank, the ineffectual voice, told the media that the Yanks want everyone. It’s quite possible that three free agent hurlers will end up in the Bronx this year. That would probably be an unprecedented haul, but if I’ve learned one thing about the Hot Stove League over the years, it’s that we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch.

Friday Hot Stove Open Thread
Inside the new stadium
  • B.George

    This just in….Hank Steinbrenner expressed his interests in the Yankees aquiring Brett Favre

    • RustyJohn

      I’d like to see Hank engage in some syphilis driven coup of the front office and then hit the free agent market and construct the all 90’s starting rotation of Randy Johnson, Pedro, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz- Maybe bring in El Duque for long relief- blow him away with an offer of 10 years, $250 million plus 1 dollars to make him the highest paid player in baseball.

      Then, in a stroke of madness, he constructs an “All All-Star” free agent line-up with Frank Thomas at first, Jeff Kent at second, Edgar Rentaria at short, Chipper Jones at third, Pudge catching, Griffey, JR in center, Moises in left and see if they can get Sheffield in right. The latter trade would occur just to see how many teammates of the 1997 Florida Marlins could be acquired.

      When all this is done, he would declare that he constructed a “team of Champions”. Trapped in the 90s, Hank entertains the fans during the 7th inning stretch by dancing the Macerana with an unlit Marlboro Red dangling from his mouth dressed as a Teletubby (TinkyWinky).

  • christopher

    thi sis exciting and it is nice to see the yanks flexing their finanicial muscle again – seems like that 185 million dollar self emposed cap may just be a fib, or at least wishful thinking.

    just hope they do dot forget about the line-up. with the aquisition of swisher could they be interested in pursuing manny? other than CC, i dont think there is a player out there who’s signing would get the yankee fans more excited.

    i am hoping for balance – 2 pitchers, CC and lowe/burnett/sheets/peavy and 2 hitters dunn and manny

    • Mike Pop

      Not asking for 2 much

      • christopher

        trying to read between the lines on what cash and hank say and it seems like the yanks are willing to open the vault..also, i think they will take into account the contracts coming off the books after 2009 along with that FA class which is aweful.

        Adding Peavy, CC, Manny and Dunn would put them at about the same payroll as they had last year. If they can trade matsui, now you are looking at a payroll around 190 million, or pretty close to the estimate. Having a top 3 potentially as dominating as CC, Peavy and Wang allows joba to go into the 4th slot and hughes battles it out with Aceves.

        If negotiations drag into january – dunn could be in that class of free agents who get hurt by the economic climate and may sign for 15 million. How much would it take to sign ryan howard? Defentitly a lot more, but there numbers and approach at the plate are almost identical

        i think hank loves manny and will throw a lot of money at him if he takes a 3 maybe even 4 year deal. Is there any other player available other than CC that would excite fans more than than Manny.

  • christopher

    and since i am smoking crack, why not throw out another crazy idea:

    Bonds for one season as the DH provided they could trade matsui and Manny in right with nady moved to left.

    While this would never in a million years happen, a 3, 4, 5 of ARod/Bonds/Manny would be worth the price of admission. i know manny isnt a gold glover but he is better than abreu and perhaps bonds would be on his best behavior as he would want to prove something.

    after this year, bonds is gone and manny goes back to DHing.

    A total fantasy (actually i think i had this trio a few times in my fantasy league), but fun to think about nontheless. Would turn the lockeroom into a “Bronx is Burning” of the present day. that daily soap opera with hard ass girardi managing them could be fun

    • Eric

      Man, I would love Barry Bonds at DH! The only thing is they should’ve done it last year instead of grabbing Sexson. In a total fantasy as well, I see this lineup:

      1. Damon, LF
      2. Jeter, SS
      3. Bonds, DH
      4. Rodriguez, SS
      5. Tex, 1B
      6. Posada, C
      7. Swisher, CF
      8. Cano, 2B
      9. Gardner/Cabrera, CF

      I dream of 900 runs…and then I wake up.

  • brockdc

    Obviously, we’re not privy to Cashman’s thoughts, but I’m with Melvin on this one. The Yankees’ initial offer seems gratuitous and clumsily desperate.

    It’ sort of reminiscent of last year when they (seemingly) bid against themselves to lock up A-rod, Posada, and Mo (though we’ll never know for certain what other teams were planning on bidding).

    I don’t think it would be detrimental at all if Cash would exercise some restraint with this.

    • christopher

      i think the yankees wanted to scare teams away right off the bat and get an idea of how much the money measn to CC. If he continues to negotiate with the brewers after this deal, it may show that money isnt the only thing for him.

      i think this was a move to feel out how CC and the competion will be. Say each team makes a bid – how close are they and is sabathia considering those teams who made lesser.

      Starting him off this way puts other teams on the defensive and forces them to sell hitting and the pacific. Depending on how much he is still drawn to the other team, the yanks then increase the offer until they get that magic number where a pitcher would pitch in alaska for if asked

    • whozat

      I kind of agree with Christopher about wanting to scare other teams away. It’s like in hold ’em…if you get dealt a strong hand, and no one else is playing like they’re in a strong position, come out strong to knock them out of the running right off the bat. The risk is that you’ve judged wrong, and someone else DOES have a strong hand, and now you’ve just started the bidding high. The upside is that the people with weak hands leave the table early, and you don’t really have to raise very much to walk away the winner.

      • dan

        What I like about that analogy is that the theory seems to work– and it’s actually underrating the Yankees’ position. The Yankees aren’t playing with the same deck of cards as everyone else. Their deck has a few more kings and aces than the rest of the major leagues (cash), and everybody knows this.

      • ceciguante

        i kind of agree with you and christopher, but if CC’s agent has a brain, he’ll continue to entertain other offers and keep talking to milwaukee and other teams, to suggest it isn’t all about the money. an initial offer almost never gets any deal done. what the yanks’ offer says to me is: “CC, we’re very serious about you and we’re not hiding it. we’re not going to start below or even at santana money in hopes of paying the same to you; we’re telling you right off the bat we consider you worth MORE than santana, and we’re putting that right on the table. this shows our commitment to bring you to the bronx and outbid anyone we need to.”

        was it overplaying their hand? maybe, but the only person who really knows that it CC or his agent. it’s possible that privately, the number CC would need to play for the yanks is 6/150. who knows?

  • http://madein1903.com nocofella

    Has anybody mentioned how remarkable of a HWL season Bleich had?

    • whozat


      Mike mentions it here:

      the Down on the Farm posts generally talk about all the guys in the winter leagues.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      For a guy who will have to have an elbow transplant in the offseason, it is good.

      • Steve H

        On both arms no less

    • Alan

      Tommy John Surgery, bust.

  • mustang

    Melvin said. “If the speculation is true that we’ve offered CC $100 million, why would you offer $140 million? Why wouldn’t you offer $110 million?”

    The Yankees don’t want and don’t need to pay games. I really don’t want hear from the small market teams especially after this last World Series. Let them get their luxury tax welfare and now they can sit back and watch.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “I really don’t want hear from the small market teams…”

      Agreed. When I read that article I thought Melvin was doing a pretty transparent PR job, telling his fans he thinks CC should stay in Milwaukee where he’s loved and where a nice offer has been made, but the big bad Yankees are coming in and making a crazy offer so if CC just wants to be a jerk and take the money, there’s nothing poor Doug Melvin can do about it. Doug Melvin’s surprised the Yankees made a huge offer to CC? After the Yankees have been telling anyone and everyone that they would do this for a while? Doug Melvin knew this would happen when he traded LaPorta et al for half a season of CC. Not feeling too bad for the guy, this is the game he decided to play.

      • Reggie C.

        When LaPorta places in the top 5 for ROY honors, i’m sure Melvin will feel even better.

    • Jim

      The Yankee bid of $140 million over six years. The Brewers bid was $100 million over 5 years. So, assuming that the Brewers were willing to go to $120 million over six years (i.e. $20 million a year), the Yankees bid is only $20 million over the same six years or a mere $3.3 million a year over the Brewers small market bid. I do not see this as some crazy out-of-left-field bid by the Yankees.

  • Tripp

    If they are offering contracts to all three of those guys maybe they believe Pettitte isn’t coming back. Could be more to his shoulder injury then we know about or some minor rift or something.

    Ben said the other day that Pettitte has never officially said he wants to play only for the Yankees.

  • Steve

    For anyone who’s ever been to an auction, the Yanks aren’t being as crazy as you might think. There’s a strategy to this. By coming out so far ahead of the pack, their hope is to scare off the marginal bidders who could wind up going past their original numbers if they get into a bidding war.

    I’ve been to many auctions, and you often go in with a number in your head, but wind up exceeding it in the heat of a bidding war. Then you walk away with a winning bid saying “What was I thinking?”. It happens, and agents try to create the same atmosphere between teams.

    If the Yanks keep this to 6 years and below 25 mil per, their strategy worked. And yes, it could have been worse.

  • ortforshort

    Its the correct move. Its a business decision. The Yankees generated close to half a billion in revenue last year. If they want to continue to bring in the big bucks, they’ll need to have a contender with stars that people want to come out and see. Teams like the Red Sox and the Angels won’t bring in nearly as much as the Yankees if they shell out the same amount of money. Therefore, from a Return on Investment perspective, there should usually be a number that the Yankees can go to that doesn’t make sense for other clubs. I’m hoping that the Yankees are looking at Teixeira the same way – they need to.

  • deadrody

    By all means, why not low ball Sabathia ? What ?!!? Why on God’s green earth would he not expect the same money that Santana got ? The Yankees are just facing reality and not pretending a magic fairy will deliver Sabathia for less than market value, like Milwaukee seems to think will happen.

    And let’s not forget that with the new stadium bonds coming off the top, the Yankees will not longer pay luxury tax. So compared to last season, they’ve dropped payroll another $24M.

  • steve (different one)

    yeah, this is silly. there is a clear benchmark in Johan Santana’s contract.

    the Yankees offered a token amount higher than that.

    there is no way Sabathia was going to sign for less considering he is a true free agent.

    Johan got that contract even after the team had to give up 4 prospects just to get him to the table.

    this costs nothing but the money and the draft pick. therefore, it’s logical that slightly more value should go to Sabathia.

    the Brewers are just playing the PR game, nothing wrong with that i guess.

  • http://riveraveblues.com/2008/11/08/bas-top-10-yankees-prospects-5738/#comments yankee21

    Assume LAA come back with an offer of 135 mil, and CC agent asks for the Yankees to sharpen the pencil,,, what is the walk away point?

    Mine,, 6 years, 150mil. Final.


    • Steve H

      If $135 is the best other offer out there, I’d go to $150. $15 mil is a lot to leave on the table.

      • Reggie C.

        I’d be shocked if the Angels’ offer comes within 20 ML of the Yanks’ offer. They’ve got to pay Lackey after next season. Lackey is likely to want a 5-6 year deal in his own right. More immediate and important is the need to retain Mark Teixeira.

        I don’t know how the LAA justify losing Teixeira to their fan base. They can’t , so i fully expect’em to make Tex a winning offer.

    • nmc

      How can you, as the Angels, come out with a smaller offer? How is that not insulting?

      If I’m Sabathia, and the Yankees publicly offer $140M, and then the Angels offer less, I know they’re trying to get me at a discount because I like the west coast. IMHO, that’s insulting. When you’re trying yo court a free agent, you need to make him feel like he’s a prince. Making a lower offer after the Yankees publicly make a huge offer won’t work.

      I think it’s the perfect amount of money. If the Angels come back and offer 145 mil, let him go. If they come back and offer 135 mil, stand pat and say well, we wanted you the most, we made the biggest offer, it’s still the biggest offer, come with us. I don’t think you have to re-bid if someone offers lower.

      Also, I really don’t think the Yankees will pay more annually for Sabathia than they did for A-Rod. So, I think 6-150 is out of the question.

      • Reggie C.

        If the Angels beat our current 140ML offer, then they’re not going to be competitive for Teixeira’s services. At that point, Cash should look to add Burnett or Sheets, trade for Peavy, and make a winning offer on Tex.

      • http://riveraveblues.com/2008/11/08/bas-top-10-yankees-prospects-5738/#comments yankee21

        it all depends on how bad NY wants CC, just have to establish a walk-away point before hand. And be prepared to leave the table with no regrets.

      • Thomas

        Arod is making 32M next season, so 6-150 is not out of the question (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/new-york-yankees_111398168678860040.html).

        • nmc

          i’m talking AAV, which for A-Rod is 27.5, not including performance bonuses? remember, A-Rod’s deal is front-loaded, in the last year of his contract he’ll only be making 20mil. ha, “only”

          • Bruno

            6/$150 = $25m AAV or 2.5 less than A-Rod

  • http://riveraveblues.com/2008/11/08/bas-top-10-yankees-prospects-5738/#comments yankee21

    150m is the max, give him 3 days to think over. if he doesn’t take it, forget him, move on and tell him to enjoy LAA or wherever.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      No. That would be silly at this point in the off-season.

      • ceciguante

        why is a time constraint silly? . it’s about the only leverage the yanks or any other team has: put a time limit on acceptance.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

          I said silly at this point in the off-season. You can do that later on, once the initial round of offers rolls in. You can’t do that from Day 1.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      You are a shrewd negotiator yankee21.

  • Mike Pop
  • Claudell Washington

    I feel like I am taking crazy pills here. Derek Lowe sucks. Am I alone on this opinion? We’ve all looked at the numbers, so I won’t repeat them here, but his last AL season was extremely unimpressive, and the fact that he turned in one decent and three mediocre seasons in the worst offensive division in baseball does nothing to inspire my belief in a late-career turnaround, a la Moose. Anything more than one year is a big mistake here.

    Now, onto Dunn. Maybe I’m in the minority here, and maybe I’m old fashioned when it comes to sabremetrics, but I don’t see the appeal here. Yes, you could do a lot worse than Adam Dunn, but comparing him to Teixeira? That’s a joke. Same goes for Swisher, Giambi, and all the other OBP/OPS stars with big strikeout rates. Here’s the fact of the matter guys: In every situation where it really counts, you don’t need someone with a high OBP at the plate; you need someone with a high BA. A walk is NOT as good as a hit.

    Man on second, two outs…do you want a walk or a single?
    How about guys on second and third with two outs…walk or single?
    Runner on third with one down…fly ball to the outfield or a strikeout?

    Aren’t we always crucifying Arod for not hitting with RISP? What if he was always walking in those situations? He’d have a great OBP, but we’d still be disappointed because he’s not knocking in the runs. We’d want hits instead of bases on balls. Same goes for Dunn. It’s nice that he’s good for forty HRs a year, it really is. But the guy strikes out FOUR TIMES for every homer. The only thing that kills rallies more than double play balls is strikeouts. And at least on a DP ball there is a chance for the fielders to botch the play. A strikeout is the ultimate failure.

    Now, let’s be honest with ourselves. Over the past six years we’ve been treated to a player very similar to Dunn in Jason Giambi. When Giambi has come up in a key spot, with RISP and a couple of outs, who among us felt great about his chances? I know I didnt. I was looking for a HR or K, with a K being much more likely. Sure a walk was possible, maybe even probable, but do we want our first baseman, a potential 30 HR and 100 RBI guy, up there to pass the buck to the next guy in the lineup? I do not. I want a hit, and I want those RBI.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      “The only thing that kills rallies more than double play balls is strikeouts.”

      That’s absurd. Losing two outs and a base runner is objectively worse than losing one out and no base runners. I know you’re trying to make a point, but this is just false.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.


      “Man on second, two outs…do you want a walk or a single?
      How about guys on second and third with two outs…walk or single?
      Runner on third with one down…fly ball to the outfield or a strikeout?”

      Yeah, no shit, the choice is obvious. Unfortunately, the hitter has little control over this. In the above situations, I’d be fine with a walk. It means the player is not making an out, and it’s one more baserunner for the next guy. A-Rod did walk a lot with runners in scoring position (despite his low average, his OBP with RISP was always around .400). The question, though, is would you rather him swing at pitches out of the zone? That’s the thing with walks. It just means you’re better at not swinging at bad pitches.

      It’s no coincidence that the Yankees led the league in walks in 1998. Clearly, walks aren’t everything, but they mean not making an out, which helps the team’s goal of scoring runs before using up their 3/27 outs.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        If the Yankees get Hermida, will there be any Yankee regular, besides Cano, who won’t strike out over 110 times next year?

        • Ivan

          Damon, Matsui and maybe Jeter.

    • nmc

      I agree with some of what you’re saying, but I think the best argument against guys like Dunn is that as guys age, the walk-HR-K guys usually get worse. I thought that someone that had low BA to begin with typically did not age well? Anyone confirm?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

        It’s more like less athletic guys don’t age as well. Most of the guys we put in the three true outcomes category aren’t the most athletic player (Hafner, Ortiz, Cust, etc.)

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          Any chance that the pitchers in the American League have just figured out Nick Swisher?

          • steve (different one)

            it’s possible, but it doesn’t seem like it.

            he walked the same, struck out the same, and hit more line drives.

            the hits just didn’t fall in.

            but you are right, it’s not out of the question.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

              Certainly not out of the question. But, Swisher led the majors in pitches seen per plate appearance and had the fourth lowest BABIP. I take that as a positive sign.

              • ceciguante

                just curious, i see a lot of mention from several RAB posters about how BABIP is an indicator of luck. isn’t it possible — or even common sense — that a player might have a lower BABIP because he’s doing a poorer job recognizing pitches, or hitting pitches squarely when they are thrown to his weak spots, rather than because of simple luck?

                in other words, is there any support for the notion that a hitter’s BABIP reflects luck and not some combination of pitching and batting performance?

        • nmc

          Wouldn’t you think Dunn falls into that category?

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

            Yes. Yes I do think that.

  • Bruno

    6years, $150million, with Wakefield-like $25m mutual optins for life?

  • http://jorgesaysno.blogspot.com Josh

    Gotta love deep pockets!

  • Hank Sucks

    How long before Hank starts making claims to have invented the piano key necktie?

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