During the Winter Meetings, as it became clear that the Yankees would indeed land CC Sabathia, Joe wrote a piece about the importance of patience. He talked about the Sabathia signing through the lens of the Johan Santana shenanigans that went on during the winter of 2007.
On Thursday, as the Yankees introduced CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to New York, one team official expounded on this idea. Long after the press conference was over, Brian Cashman sat down with one of the YES Network reporters and talked about the courting of Sabathia. It obviously wasn’t just some spurt-of-the-moment idea that formed since the 2008 season ended.
It had, in fact, been a goal of the Yankee front office since last season and Sabathia’s impending free agency was one of the primary reasons why the Yankees never completed the Santana trade. As Cashman said, the Sabathia signing was the “completion of the concept.” Cashman noted that the Yanks had CC on the radar since being bounced by Cleveland in 2007. Sabathia was, after all, a “premiere player available for just a draft choice.”
It’s interesting to hear Cashman use these words so unequivocally. The Yankees understand — better, at times, than many of their fans do — that it pays to wait one season to land that top tier pitcher through free agency. There is no need to overpay in prospects, players and money for a pitcher when you can land one nearly as good six or eight months later for just money and a draft pick.
Of course, at the same time, Cashman realized that this wasn’t an easy wait. “We took a lot of hits going through that process,” he said. The Yanks GM also was well aware that there was “no guarantee” that Sabathia woud sign with the Yanks.
In the end, though, these words were telling. Behind Cashman’s rational lies the reason for the Yanks’ huge offer for Sabathia. They wanted to ensure that no one would outbid them a season after intentionally losing out on Santana. Who knows how the move will pan out? Nothing suggests Sabathia won’t excel in New York. But as Brian Cashman knows, a lot depends on CC. Right now, passing on Santana to wait for Sabathia was the right move. Now we just have to wait for the games to start to make sure it remains the right move ten months from now.