Sabathia doesn’t say much about his opt-out situation

28 teams offer Cliff Lee 7 years
Could the Yanks afford both Crawford and Lee?
(Tony Gutierrez/AP)

We have definitely heard this before. In August, speaking to the New York Post, CC Sabathia discussed the opt-out clause in his contract. Unlike three prominent opt-out cases — Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett, and J.D. Drew — that came before him, Sabathia said that he’s a Yankee, “hundred percent.

I think you know I’ve built a house here, right? My kids go to school here. We live here year round. So I’m not going anywhere.

Situations can always change, and we could certainly see that with Sabathia. This winter another left-handed ace, Cliff Lee, figures to get six, or maybe even seven, years at a similar average annual value to Sabathia. Why, then, wouldn’t Sabathia use that leverage to turn what is essentially a four-year, $92 million player option into another seven-year deal?

According to the Post, Lee’s situation will not influence Sabathia. “It has no effect on me at all,” he said. Unfortunately, that is the only quote that the Post article provides. Apparently Sabathia’s stance hasn’t changed since the summer. We can refer back to the above quote for Sabathia’s stance on the matter.

Still, I can’t help but notice a glaring omission. Never has Sabathia said the words “I will not opt out of my contract.” He has just talked about how he’s sticking around. I don’t think this means he’s seriously considering an opt out, but I do think that he’s not prepared to surrender all of his leverage by saying, in no uncertain terms, that he will decline to exercise the clause. It’s hard to fault him for that.

The lesson, as always: don’t trust Post headlines. In this case it was, “Sabathia won’t opt out,” but he didn’t say that. He just said it has no effect on him, which references a previous statement, which also didn’t explicitly mention the opt-out clause. I don’t think he will, but it’s definitely a stretch to take Sabathia’s words and say that he won’t.

28 teams offer Cliff Lee 7 years
Could the Yanks afford both Crawford and Lee?
  • Ross in Jersey

    I’m sure he has every intention on staying here, but if he doesn’t opt out he’d basically be leaving free money on the table. Maybe Lee’s status has no effect on CC, but it has everything to do with giving him leverage if he opts out.

    • YankeesJunkie

      It would be hard to turn down 4/92 for any player, but if Lee goes out and gets a deal for 6 or 7 years at 24 or 25 million it might be hard for CC not to opt out. However, what CC has going against him is that he will most likely won’t be as good as a pitcher in 2011 as CC in 2008 or Lee in 2010.

      • Hughesus Christo

        So he’s going to suffer a decline in the next 12 months?

        • YankeesJunkie

          CC 2008> CC 2011

          Also three years older.

          • Ross in Jersey

            Even if CC has an off year in 2011 his agent can still argue that he’s one year removed from a Cy Young caliber year and that he’s one year younger than the Lee who got paid more dollars at more years.

  • ZZ

    After sailing to his 17th win of the season and delivering another superb outing in yesterday’s 10-0 rain-delayed romp over the Mariners, the Yankees ace told The Post that he won’t “even consider” becoming a free agent after 2011, even though that provision exists in his seven-year, $161 million mega-contract.

    Read more:

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      Again, he never said the words. Look at the quotes from Sabathia.

      • ZZ

        I think you are looking for something that is not there. These reporters are not interrogating CC and CC is not carefully calculating every word he says. He was asked about the opt out two times now and he said he won’t even consider it and Lee has no effect on him.

        Unless they put these guys on the witness stand you are never going to hear exactly word for word what you want. I actually think the opposite. I think taking these words and saying he won’t opt out because he didn’t specifically say I am not opting out, is a bit of a stretch.

        That said, this is no way proves he won’t opt out. They are just words and things can change.

  • Anthony Murillo

    I believe him when he hints at not opting out. “I’m a Yankee 100 percent” or whatever the quote is, is enough for me

    • Zack

      What is he suppose to say? If he says he’ll keep his options open, then it’s going to be 200 days of “CC, are you opting out? “‘No comment’ – OMGz panic!” Neither the Yankees or CC want that nonsense all year long.

      I believe him when the deadline to opt-out passes and he declines the opportunity.

    • Louis

      I agree. I think it’s paranoid to think that just because he didn’t say the words he will opt out. I don’t remember the last time a player promised to “not become a free agent” and did anyways. His image would take a definite hit if he did that. And would he really get more than$25 mill for his post- prime seasons? He’s a completely different pitcher than lee.

  • Reggie C.

    Sabathia would need to turn in another Cy Young worthy campaign in 2011 to re-capture the same momentum he had entering his previous FA offseason. Cashman’s too smart to look at wins-losses as a measure of SP dominance.

  • YankeesJunkie

    If CC has another year like he did in 2009 and 2010 he does have quite a bit leverage to ask for a one or two year extension at 23 million per.

  • Dax J.

    I hope he stays true to his word. If he doesn’t, you can’t blame him. CC’s a very good pitcher. If he can get more money than what the Yanks are paying him, he can surely go for it.

  • nathan

    I think what CC may be trying here is to hint to Cash$$ he wont opt out but would like an extension.

    I think its too risky for CC to opt out next year, we all are afraid about years 4-7 for Lee, we should be afraid abt years 5-7 for CC too. His workload is unbelievable. All that has to add up eventually.

    If he opts out take the arb pick.

  • OldYanksFan

    CC can wait to see what Lee gets and simply go to the Yanks and say “Instead of opting out, how about a contract extention for another 2/$45m”.

    Also, I don’t know what this means, but even though CC is still 2 years younger then Lee, CC has logged 10 full years and 2127 IP, while Lee has 9 years and only 1409 IP. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that CC may break down before Lee does.

    • Zack

      Hoping for an extensions after Jeter/Mo/Posada/Andy/ARod were all allowed to enter free agency?

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Jeter/Mo/Posada/Andy were allowed to enter free agency. Alex wasn’t allowed per se, he used his contractual right to opt for free agency. There was nothing the Yanks could have legally done to prevent it.

        So CC’s case is much more like Alex’s than the others. It’s not exactly hoping for an extension. It’s using the leverage he previously negotiated to convince Cashman to extend him.

        It’s a subtle, but huge differnce..

        • Zack

          While there is that difference; Yankees have also been pretty clear on their message of not discussing extensions when players are about to hit FA.

  • bottom line

    Good for CC. Sucking every last dime out of the system may make sense for those whose only metric is dollars. But believe it or not, there may actually be other things in life. Sappy stuff like character, decency and the respect of others. Derek seemed upset that he may have lost just a bit in terms of public perception and adulation. Good to see at least that this is at least a factor of some consideration.

    • Thomas

      Derek seemed upset that he may have lost just a bit in terms of public perception and adulation.

      I think he was upset he only got 3/51M with an option.

      • Bulldozer

        I think he was upset that his image was damaged when he was just going through a baseball salary negotiation.

    • Louis

      If he cared so much about his perception he wouldve deflated his ego a bit during negotiations.

  • Bulldozer

    Would a 2/32M extension keep him out of will he/won’t he hell?

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    CC may not want to pitch further than his contract and how much money does he need. He’s already made more money than he could have ever dreamed about. Also, his kids are young and adding years may bring about the Andy Pettitte situation. College is paid for the children, granchildren and houses on both coasts paid for get a good CFP and never look back.

    • Johnny O (no alias)

      Did you follow the Derek Jeter negotiations? Or the A-Rod opt out? They go for the most money even if they don’t need it. Really only LeBron didn’t go for the most money and people still castrated him for it.

  • Chris

    If he comes close to repeating his 2010 performance, he would absolutely have to think about opting out. I’m not sure what the FA pitcher market would look like, but I have to believe he’d be the best option out there.

    He’ll still be 31, right? So someone would almost certainly drop 5+ years and prob $100+ million on him.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      But the remainder of his Yankees contract will be 4/$92 mil, so he won’t opt out for an extra year at $8M.

      However, I believe you underestimate his potential contract.

      Provided the economy hasn’t worsened, he could probably get a 5-6 year deal at $115-140M.

  • Shaun

    If CC opts let him walk, he makes $23 million, by far the highest paid pitcher, there are very few teams that can handle the money he’s making now, let alone a significant raise like an opt out would create.