CC not sounding as decisive about not opting out


(Paul Sancya/AP)

The first day of camp often functions as a frequently asked questions session. In years past we’ve heard reporters ask about the relationship between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and other similarly banal issues. This year they wasted no time in finding CC Sabathia and asking him about the clause in his contract that allows him to opt out after this season.

This topic gained some prominence earlier this winter, while the Yankees were still in pursuit of Cliff Lee. At first Sabathia kept his statements ambiguous, saying that he’s “not going anywhere.” During a TV appearance at Madison Square Garden CC was a bit more concrete in his language. Interviewer Jill Marting opened by asking him why he decided not to opt out of his contract. CC accepted the premise of the question, saying that, “that was an easy decision.” Case closed, right? Of course not. It won’t be closed until after the season ends. That means the question remains open, and that reporters will question Sabathia about it.

This morning Sabathia held court. When asked about the opt out, he again walked the tightrope. According to Joel Sherman, Sabathia said that he wouldn’t exercise the opt-out, without actually saying the words. This is exactly what we’ve heard from him in the past. “I’m here,” he said repeatedly. But we know that: Reporters made it clear this morning when they noted the weight he lost this winter, around 25 pounds. What we’re all wondering is whether he’ll be here next year, and the year after. That question remained unanswered, and by Sabathia’s indications it will remain unanswered. He won’t speak about the issue for the rest of the season.

Yet he did speak to the New York Post after his press session. In that interview he came across as a many willing to explore his options. “Anything is possible,” he said. Later he said that he’s “not thinking about anything beyond Opening Day.” Those don’t sound like the words of a man committed to remaining in New York under the current terms of his contract. That isn’t to say that he’s going to leave or even that he’s going to opt out. It does mean that he’s going to wait on that decision and make it based on what’s best for him at the time.

There are indications that Sabathia will stick around beyond this season. He has established his family here, buying a house and making it his year-round residence. His kids go to school here, and apparently he has asked about high schools for his son, who is currently seven years old. But he could exercise his considerable leverage in order to work out a new deal with the Yankees after this season. Conceivably, he could go as high as Cliff Lee’s current contract. Sabahtia has a longer track record of success than Lee, and he’ll be a year younger than Lee when the latter reached free agency. After all, Sabathia did say that he wanted to pitch another eight to ten years.

I have confidence that Sabathia will remain a Yankee for the forseeable future. I can even see him retiring in pinstripes. But I do not think that he will play the 2012 through 2015 seasons under the original terms of his contract. The Yankees need him, and they have the resources to pay him. Thankfully, as with most hot stove issues, we can put this behind us until November. He won’t talk about it, so we can forget about it for the time being and enjoy his performances every five days. It’s just another sign that baseball is that much closer.

Categories : Players


  1. Esteban says:

    Has a player with an opt-out clause ever not exercised it? Just wondering.

  2. AndrewYF says:

    Even if Cashman won’t negotiate a new contract with him, at least we know Hank is ready to give him that 10 extra years he’s convinced he’ll be pitching!

  3. Bryan L says:


    Seriously did anyone not expect him to eventually throw the idea out there of opting out? Doesn’t shock me at all.

  4. Dream of Electric Sheeps says:

    I will worry about when the season is over. it’s a case of nothing can be done right now.

  5. JerseyDutch says:

    I hate to play the “I told you so” game but I said months ago that just because CC said wasn’t opting out didn’t mean he wasn’t opting out. (I know, boo hoo, poor me…)

  6. Steve H says:

    He might not ever actually opt-out, but I’d would be absolutely floored if he doesn’t get a few years tacked onto his current contract. He likes it here and knows the Yankees are willing to spend, so he may never hit the market so to speak, but I see no way he doesn’t opt-out if his current contract isn’t enhanced.

    • Esteban says:

      Agree with this. Maybe he threatens (hopefully privately) the opt-out to get another 2-3 years added on the end of the contract.

  7. Doug says:

    What? He may opt out? Seriously?

  8. FachoinaNYY says:

    If he does opt I can’t see him not coming back…

    Only concern is if he doesn’t like the direction of the franchise or something like that.

  9. Mike HC says:

    If this team loses CC, just forget about it. Then you will really see what rebuilding is all about. And he definitely know that too. This opt out is reason number 1,004 why we need to add another established starter (and that does not mean Millwood). But we know all this already.

  10. Johnny O says:

    Of course he will opt out (or at least threaten and get a new deal). He could easily match Cliff Lee’s deal, which means an extra $30M. If he doesn’t opt out, it will be Gil Meche-esque and we should cannonize him immediately. Actually just retire his number on opening day 2012.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      He should definitely match, if not exceed Lee’s deal. He’ll be younger next offseason than Lee was this winter, and he’s got a much longer track record of both performance and health.

  11. Doug says:

    Joe, if CC has another CC-type season and then asks for 6/$125-$150M, what would you do if you were Cashman? In some of his prior chats, I recall Mike being a being somewhat against tacking on a couple of years to his contract (my apologies Mike if this is incorrect). Not sure your take on it.

    And Mike, is this your continued stance on the matter?

    Thanks, guys

  12. Klemy says:

    I still can’t blame him for exercising his leverage if he does so, I just hate that he can. He stands to make a lot of money off it, so most in his position are going to do it. It’s hard to ever see a player option work in the club’s favor, other than convincing a person to sign the original contract in the first place.

    • Mike HC says:

      I remember hearing that the opt out was included because he had reservations over if he would like NY or not. He obviously loves it here and has stated that many times. If he opts out purely to get more money from the Yanks, and not because he wants to change locations, he will have been a bit disingenuous in my opinion when talking about the opt out up to this point. Not a big deal or anything, but just something I thought I would point out.

      • rbizzler says:

        True enough, but business is business. CC has tiptoed around the opt-out issue so as not to make it a big issue with the media and fanbase. I wouldn’t blame him if he exercised the leverage that was contractually afforded him, regardless of the implied/assumed original intention of the clause.

  13. UncleArgyle says:

    Of course CC will Opt out. Thats why you put it in your contract. The only way he doesn’t is if he blows out his elbow this year. Yanks will have to give him 6/150. But hey, not my money.

  14. Reggie C. says:

    CC did the wise thing in making this statement this early in the preseason. It’s simply irrational for fans to think that CC won’t weigh and utilize his options. I have no doubt CC will match his 2010 success. If it ends up taking a couple more million annually plus 2 years to keep CC here … do it.

  15. Matt says:

    The huge problem is that there’s no legitimate front of the rotation starters on the free agent market in 2012. Barring injury, teams will pick up the options on Carpenter, Wainwright, Dempster. Who else is there that’s worth spending front of the rotation money – no one. If CC leaves at the end of the 2011 season, we’ll be screwed..there’s no way around it. And CC knows this, so you can bet that we’ll be either paying him extravagantly or he’ll be walking out the door. If he does walk, 2012 will be a rebuilding year. I mean AJ would theoretically be the #1 starter – really? It’s hard to imagine Nova or Mitre as a #3. I really don’t see how we can have a rotation to compete with the top AL teams unless a trade happens. Which makes it more and more likely that Cash would make a trade for an ace or #2 before this year’s trade deadline.

  16. MattG says:

    Why is he going to get as good a deal as Lee’s again? Cliff Lee was a substantially better pitcher in the two years leading up to his free agency than CC Sabathia.

    I suppose CC gets some bonus points for durability, making it closer, but Sabathia’s numbers are trending downward (3 years is a trend, 4 years is decline!). If he posts a 7 k/9 3 bb/9 campaign in 2011, who’s going to be knocking down his door with six year deals? No one.

    Only if he rebounds to 2007/2008 heights should teams be looking to put him next to Lee.

    • Doug says:

      and would that surprise you given he’s going into his walk year and he arrived in camp in better shape than he’s been in years.

    • Reggie C. says:

      CC is going to bet that Cashman won’t want to start the 2012 season with a rotation of Hughes, AJ, Nova, Brackman, and Phelps/Noesi/Mitchell.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

      Why is he going to get as good a deal as Lee’s again?

      Because our ownership will go on the dooooooommmmeeed ship and give him a blank check.

  17. TLVP says:

    This is good news! Why? Because this makes 2011 a contract year and he’ll be awesome all year…

  18. Wil Nieves #1 Fan says:

    Isn’t Sabathia supposed to be the guy that doesn’t do this type of shit? We all love his big charming smile and incredible talent, but I’ve always been enamored with CC for the team-player qualities that he seems to possess. We’re all familiar with CC pitching on 3 days rest for Milwaukee during a contract year, and he’s clearly a fan favorite in NY — it just seems that opting out would be so “un-CC-like”? Even Cliff Lee said, there’s only so many millions you can make that those millions added on just seem silly. I acknowledge that “baseball is a business” and it might be in CC’s best interest financially, but does anybody see where I’m coming from?

  19. wright1969 says:

    the spanks would really suck if he left to go to philly

  20. gargoyle says:

    Let him walk. He’ll wind up on a worse team making less money.

  21. Mike says:

    Can’t really blame him. It’s not like we’re not opposed to giving more money to players when they decide to opt out. We’ve already set a precedent for that with A-Rod.

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