Feb
14

CC not sounding as decisive about not opting out

By

(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
  • Esteban

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

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      If you count player options, then yes. If not, no. The only real opt-outs I can think of are JD Drew (Dodgers) and Burnett (Blue Jays). There has to be more though.

      • AndrewYF

        …A-Rod…?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          /facepalm

          My bad.

          • http://Www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

            Can’t imagine Vernon Wells using his after this season either.

            • MannyGee

              at 3/$63M left after this season, i’d say its a safe bet.

      • Esteban

        And we shall see with Soriano.

  • AndrewYF

    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!

  • http://twitter.com/bryanl26 Bryan L

    DOOOOOOMMMEEEDDD

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

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      On a personal level, it’s the smartest thing he could do.

      • http://twitter.com/bryanl26 Bryan L

        Exactly. Who wouldn’t do it if you were in CC’s shoes?

        • steve s

          Exactly who is going to even come close to giving CC anything close to the deal the Yanks gave him? Yanks should firmly let CC know that if he opts out they will not pursue him. At some point the Yanks need to stop bidding against themselves. In all liklihood the Yanks will be in a rebuilding mode soon (perhaps as early as next season) and with the bounty of Yankee young pitching talent about to come into play the Yanks could use the CC money to help obtain Jeter and Arod replacements.

          • Doug

            you do realize that arod won’t need a replacement for 7 more years right

            • steve s

              The Yanks have to pay him for the next 7 years. They’ll need a replacement alot sooner than that.

              • Doug

                yes, but unless he’s down and out, they’re gonna find a spot in the lineup for a man they’re paying $25M to.

                • OldYanksFan

                  As long as ARod can still hit HRs, he will play. The whole purpose of his contract is to chase that record.

                  His last 3 years he makes, $21m, $20m and $20m.

                  • Doug

                    $21M, $20M, and $20M more than he’ll likely be worth

          • MannyGee

            Exactly who is going to even come close to giving CC A-Rod anything close to the deal the Yanks gave him?

            yeah, so let me know how this works out.

            • steve s

              You don’t think the Yanks would want a do-over on that one?

              • Doug

                well, november’s gonna be their do-over opportunity

  • Dream of Electric Sheeps

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

  • JerseyDutch

    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…)

    • Klemy

      Since you did it anyway, you obviously didn’t hate it enough to not remind everyone.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        boom, roasted

      • JerseyDutch

        Okay, maybe “hate” was the wrong word… how about “am moderately hesitant”?

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    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

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

  • Doug

    What? He may opt out? Seriously?

  • FachoinaNYY

    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.

    • MannyGee

      yeah, no one likes the ‘pay more than every one else’ direction of a franchise…

  • Mike HC

    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.

  • Johnny O

    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.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      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.

  • Doug

    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

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Definitely. Giving him another seven years at that age with that workload and at his size is definitely scary.

      • Esteban

        Is there an alternative though? Should the Yankees let him go if he can find a team that would give him that (yes that’s a big if)?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          No alternative, which is why this sucks. That’s what these opt-outs do, they take all the leverage away from the team, which is why they’re so monumentally stupid.

          • Doug

            Would you ever include one, Mike? What if a player insisted one be included? Would you be willing to let a player go to another team by not including one?

      • MannyGee

        ‘at his size’???

        ummmm, he STOPPED EATING CAPT’N CRUNCH (by the pallet, apparantly)…

        take it back.

    • OldYanksFan

      He’s already slated to get 4/$97m for the next 4 years… so giving him another 2/$43m is pretty competative. Aside from the Sox, not to many team can just drop $140m.

      • Doug

        the issue is guaranteeing a 300 lb pitcher with miles and miles on his arm, $20M+ when he’s 37 years old.

  • Klemy

    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

      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

        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.

  • UncleArgyle

    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.

    • Slu

      Yup. CC is not dumb. This is exactly what I would do and is by far the most likely outcome.

  • Reggie C.

    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.

  • Matt

    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.

  • MattG

    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

      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.

      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

      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.

  • TLVP

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

    • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

      Only AJ does that…

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    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?

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      but does anybody see where I’m coming from?

      Yeah, it looks like you’re falling in-love with narratives to be honest.

      • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

        No, I’m a constant narrative denier. But for the sake of Valentine’s Day I’ll meet you half way?

    • Mike

      Ughh. Don’t be naive.

  • wright1969

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

  • gargoyle

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

    • fire levine

      But we would stiLl be screwed

  • Mike

    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.