Today in contract non-updates

Filing Some Complaints
Chavez's foot not broken, but he's still out 2-3 weeks
(AP Photo)

As the 2011 season marches along, there’s one gigantic elephant in the room that everyone’s trying to forget about for the time being: CC Sabathia‘s opt-out clause. The Yankees’ ace can skip out on the final four years and $90-something million dollars left on his contract after the season and hit the free agent market in search of greener pastures. Sabathia will be the best freely available pitcher by a mile, and the Yankees desperately need him to stick around.

Brian Cashman said yesterday that the team will not discuss a new contract with Sabathia during the season despite some obvious reasons why they probably should. This is not news though. The Yankees have a long-standing policy of not talking contracts until the current one expires, regardless of the player’s status or importance to the team. In fairness, Cashman also stuck to the rule three years ago, when his contract expired and he didn’t pursue some kind of extension beforehand. Barring a complete catastrophe, Sabathia will opt out because it’s the smartest move he could possible make.

On the open market, CC is going to have a lot of leverage against the Yankees, and I mean a lot. An unprecedented amount, even. But the Bombers won’t be completely handcuffed because only a limited number of teams can afford to give Sabathia the monster contract he’ll be seeking, and at the end of the day absolutely no one can offer him more than New York. Sabathia has also said “I’m not going anywhere” while noting that he lives in the area year-round and that his kids go to school here. That’s just a clever way of not saying he won’t use the opt out though. So if/when he does bail on the rest of his contract, CC’s choices will be a) come back to the Yankees on a new deal that will pay him handsomely, or b) take less money elsewhere and uproot his family for the second time in three or so years. And be hated by Yankees fans for basically the rest of eternity.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

In other contract non-news, Hal Steinbrenner refused to commit to Cashman beyond this season, simply saying that the higher-ups will base the decision on more than just the team’s performance this year. Cashman responded by saying nothing, almost literally: “Nothing to respond to.” His latest three-year contract is up, and although he was more candid than expected this past winter, he and the Steinbrenners still have a strong working relationship.

The Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy, but I think Cashman’s will be messier. I figure CC will return after using Cliff Lee’s contract with Philadelphia (six years, $150M) as a starting point in negotiations (he’s got a much longer track record and will still be younger this winter than Lee was this past offseason). Maybe he’ll make all our hopes and dreams come true and decide not to use the opt out, but I would be stunned if that happened. Cashman has some leverage over ownership given the way they went over his head for Rafael Soriano and with Derek Jeter‘s contract, plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available. These decisions won’t have to made for a few months, but ever so often reminders like this will pop up.

Filing Some Complaints
Chavez's foot not broken, but he's still out 2-3 weeks
  • Neil

    The Yankees basically guaranteed that CC would opt out once they offered Cliff Lee the big contract. Resigning CC is a big must regardless of dollars unless you can find two starters at 14 million each that can give you more than CC’s 20 wins.

    • Esteban

      I think the Yankees guaranteed CC would opt out when the Yankees included an opt-out in his contract.

      • Guest

        All kinds of this.

        • Rob

          The problem will be who will negotiate this fall on Yankees behave? Cashman will be without a contract, so does the Tampa hierarchy settle quickly with their GM first. Do they negotiate with CC, then Cashman. What about the rest of the free agents. Let the Assistant GM’s do the work. Tampa, said no negotiation during the year. The Yankees have bigger problems, if Tampa gets involved and sets back Yankees to the 90’s.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Cashman has some leverage over ownership given the way they went over his head for Rafael Soriano and with Derek Jeter‘s contract…

    I don’t for a moment think that Cashman would actually root for either Soriano or Jeter to fail to justify his stances on their contracts (because he’d be cutting off his nose to spite his face), but I do wonder how upset he actually gets about their respective struggles.

    Probably more upset about Jeter, as he represents the harder man to move/replace if he becomes an albatross.

    Just my idle, totally worthless speculation.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      You think he’d be more upset about the Captain? Shortstops all suck. Jeter’s bat still is kinda normal for the position.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I meant more in the pre-recent-good-play, first month of the season suckitude version of Jeter.

        My bad.

  • Mike c

    Give the gigantic elephant a nice extension, he needs to stay

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I don’t think Bartolo Colon has done enough yet to merit an extension.

      • Mike c

        I always thought he was more of a pudgy toad or a bullfrog

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          No, that’s Irabu and Jeremiah (respectively).

        • Rob Thomsen’s Chili Farts

          Agreed. At least Colon looks like he had muscle at some point. CC is just fat.

    • holycowboy

      yeah, we’re paying the elephant peanuts

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Can we pay him in Trident Layers?

        • AndrewYF

          You can pay him in Double Downs.

  • AndrewYF

    “And be hated by Yankees fans for basically the rest of eternity.”

    I might be giving Yankee fans no credit, but I don’t think they’re exactly like Texas or Red Sox fans. Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary of some crazy dumb people, there’s no inferiority complex ingrained in the Yankee fan culture like there is in teams that haven’t won all that much.

    In that context, I don’t think Yankee fans would hate Sabathia if he went elsewhere. He gave the team a World Series and (likely) 3 years of straight-up dominance. If he goes elsewhere, it’s all on the Yankees’ front office. And even in the imaginary world of HalosHeaven where the west coast is some magical fairyland where everyone wants to play and Sabathia chooses to go there no matter what ala Cliff Lee, well, I don’t see the majority of Yankee fans giving the finger to Lee. I, for one, simply respect that he went where he truly wanted to go. And Sabathia has meant more to this organization than Cliff Lee ever will. He’ll be loved no matter what.

    • AndrewYF

      I meant of course, I might be giving Yankee fans too much credit.

      • Guest

        As posted below, I agree with you. I hope you are right that Yankee fans have a higher level of understanding than some other fan bases when it comes to free agents (cough *Cleveland* cough).

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I can’t be mad at Clevelanders for their ignorant, primal rage. It’s a third fourth world country out there. They have yet to develop potable water or a cuneiform script, asking Clevelanders to understand the complexities of modern sport is just beyond the scope of their diminished cranial capacity or lack of opposable thumbs.

          • Guest

            I literally laughed out loud. Not good while I’m still at the office.

        • Rob Thomsen’s Chili Farts

          You shouldn’t base your opinion on a few informed people that post here. Almost everyone in NYC is very dumb.
          Also, how can you have ‘a higher level of understanding’ when your team just buys whatever it wants? Seems like they’d have little understanding, if any.

    • Clay Bellinger

      Yeah, I’ve become a big fan of him and considering what he’s meant to the club over the last 2+ years it would be hard for me not to like the guy regardless. Reasonable fans would prob feel the same way. I’m sure many would overreact and hate on em though.

    • DirtyWater

      Oh goody now those non-dumb non inferiority complex ingrained Yankee fans will have some others player’s wife to spit on.

      • Larry

        Grow UP! I’m sure you’ll be in High School eventually. Although if you keep flunking the fifth grade, it’s going to be a struggle. Lee and his Wife have denied this piece or Old News.

    • Larry

      I very much agree with you. As a LONG Time Yanks fan, I have no animosity toward Cliff Lee for his decision. In fact, I’m glad he went to the Phillies. That monster contract at his age would have been an albatross In 3 or 4 years. I would love to see those young guns in the minors given opportunities rather than watching Lee struggle towards the end. As to Sabathia, the opt out is there. If he chooses to use it, then so be it.

  • Guest

    I am not even rooting for CC to not opt-out. That’s like rooting for the ability to fly or super-human strength. Why wish for something that has no shot at happening?

    And I will not for one moment be upset at CC for opting out. It would be imprudent for him not to, even if he wants to stay in NY. The Yanks will do whatever it takes to re-sign him, so he can stay in NY AND get more money. Win win.

    Personally, I will not hate CC in the unlikely event that he signs somewhere else (though I think Mike is right that I will likely be in the minority here). I will root against him hard-core when he pitches against the Yankees, and otherwise wish him and his family the best.

    CC is a good dude who helped the Yanks win a championship and has been a pleasure to watch on the mound. And if he takes advantage of a right that he bargained for in arms length negotiations, he hasn’t done anything wrong. How can you hate a good guy who has not done anything wrong just because he chose to not play for your favorite team anymore?

    The whole hate a guy because he deigned to choose where he wants to work thing is just something I can’t wrap my head around. It’s so…petty.

    If I’m going to “hate” an athlete, there needs to be more than exercising free agency rights. Like, for example, Luke Scottyian racism or Roger Clemens general douchebaggery.

    • bexarama

      I agree with all of this, entirely. I know it’s really pointless to respond to a post with “durrr I liked this and agreed with all of it” but I just wanted to point out how well-written and thought out it was. Just my $0.02

      • Guest

        Thanks, bex!

        And, know that I have made the “thank you for liking my comment” comment, you no longer have the most pointless comment in this thread.

        So you’ve got that going for you…which is nice.

        • bexarama

          Mwahaha, I was BAITING you into that and you fell for it. 8)

          (Nah, I kid. I also think he’s totally not going anywhere even when he opts out, which is basically an inevitability to me.)

  • KW

    Someone somewhere mentioned this, but the Yanks probably should not extend Sabathia should he opt out. The yanks would have received 3 years of prime Sabathia at market rate without needing to pay for the inevitable decline. They should probably cut and run and it’d work out better in the long term. Or does anyone still think an A-rod type contract is good long term?

    • AndrewYF

      You do know they don’t give out awards for ‘best contracts’, right?

      • KW

        Ok, would you prefer your favorite team being hamstrung by an awful contract and unable to jump the derby for future great players that may hit the market, or be forced into making trades to shore up a staff due to a lack of funding? It might not be a problem now, but it may in the future. Stop being so myopic in thinking that everyone can spend untold amounts of money unwisely and have it turn out well. Or did you miss the 80’s Yankees teams?

        • Tommy

          You know the Yankees can’t be hamstrung, right? Sure, Brian Cashman wants to be like other GMs and operate on a “fair” budget, but do you honestly think the A-Rod contract is preventing them from doing…well, anything? I mean, clearly you do, but that’s ridiculous. Also, you’re writing off the 80’s teams as solely being a result of resources, which would be way too simple.
          You probably think I’m the kind of Yankees fan who doesn’t know anything about anything, and thinks they have literally unlimited funds. Well, I’m aware that there is and end somewhere….but I guarantee that if they resign CC for even more money, that that contract and A-Rod’s contract won’t ruin their team.

    • Guest

      I think there is something to this argument as a general principle.

      But in the Yankees specific case, I’m not so sure.

      There is no one else on the market this year that is anywhere close to CC. And there current rotation situation is…unsettled.

      I think maybe we have been blinded to the last fact by the shockingly and I do mean shockingly impressive work they have gotten from Garcia, Nova, and Colon so far. They’ve defied all reasonable odds by being this good for even one fifth of the season. If they keep this up for the rest of the year, Cashman may want to buy a lottery ticket because he would be guaranteed to win with that level of luck.

      Going into 2012 with AJ (Cured? We better hope so…), Phil (Presuming his arm still works), Nova, Colon, and Garcia would be…an iffy proposition. At absolute best. Maybe Manny would be ready to break camp in 2012, but maybe not. Maybe it would be better for his development to let him keep working on things in the minors rather than rushing him to the majors EVEN if he is one of the 5 best starters in the organization. (Because if there is one thing we learned from the Phil Hughes, Joba, and IPK era its that rushing starters to the majors is always a good idea. Always.)

      Now it may actually be a good idea to let CC go even knowing all of these facts. But if we do, we better be prepared to watch a pretty shaky rotation in 2012 and 2013 (before the epiphany free agency class of 2013 allows us to re-stock for 2014).

    • MikeD

      They could let Sabathia walk away, but not sure the A-Rod and Sabathia comparisons make a whole lot of sense, unless of course they offer him a decade-long contract that takes him to 40. Let’s see the terms before jumping to conclusions.

      Sabathia will once again be the higest-paid pitcher in the game after he uses his opt out. I could care less if he goes from 22.5 million a season to 25 million a season.

      I guess the question is are you looking for a low-budget replacement for CC? Or are you assuming the Yankees can acquire a younger, peak-level CC for a cheaper price? I’ll be fine with that. I just don’t think that animal exists.

      • KW

        I think neither – I just think there’s risk in signing the contract. There’s no doubt that this will be a ball buster contract, since he theoretically already has a 4 year contract on the table. He would conceivably be looking for more than 4, so say, 7, which brings him to 37. He could still be great, or he might not be. The odds don’t weigh in his favor. Of all the long term, big money contracts given to starters in the last decade, only Moose stands out as having performed up to specs. Nearly every other one has been either a disappoiment, or a colossal, bloated albatross choking the team that signed it. Sure, the Yanks can afford it now, but who knows?

    • Rob Thomsen’s Chili Farts

      TROLL! They should absolutely sign a morbidly obese man to a long contract extension.

      • Zack

        Who’s in your rotation next year with CC?

    • Dan Schneck

      Why does everyone think the Yankee front office is that stupid, to do another A-Roid opt-out/extension? They are the only ones that CAN pay that much, but why would they bid against themselves, AGAIN? I would say to him: “You have a contract, earn it or go elsewhere, AND TRY to get MO money!” Truly, I despise these greedy BLEEPS…..

      • Dan Schneck

        And personally, I don’t think he has pitched all that well anyway! He pitches for one of the highest scoring teams in baseball, if he’s half-assed, he should win 20-25 games every year, but he doesn’t! Halladay would win 30 for this club! He should try pitching for the Giants, or another club who can’t score runs, then all you idiots would see his true worth!! He was much better in Cleveland and Milwaukee, than he has been with the Yankees. $161 million is far more than he’s been worth to this point. I would NOT give him another penny….

  • MikeD

    CC will opt out and he should opt out. That’s the point of an opt out. As long as he’s healhty and pitching well (check marks in both columns right now), and there is some other pitcher making more money per year (Cliff Lee), indicating the market will pay even more, then why wouldn’t he opt out?

    His answer of “I’m not going anywhere” could simply mean that he’s planning on pitching for the Yankees for years to come, but he’s also planning on using the opt out to get more money. Bet on it.

  • Will

    They should just go up to him and say, “We will increase your salary by the amount of one Jorge-Posada-per-year… but you have to DH as well.”

    Actually, that would be pretty awesome.

  • clancy

    I disagree with the idea there is no in-house replacement for Cashman if he leaves or they choose not to bring him back. Damon Oppenheimer has re-stocked the farm system and run productive draft after productive draft. He deserves a GM job, and the Yankees reportedly denied him permission to speak with the Diamondbacks last summer. I think if Cash departs they would be wise to look long and hard at Oppenheimer.

  • Gondor

    I hate to say this, but I think he opts out and ends up in Philly or SF. It’s much easier for a pitcher to extend his career in the NL. Both teams can afford him, and Philly in particular is well-positioned as they can opt to not pick up Oswalt’s option of $16M meaning CC is effectively a $9-10M a year pick up on their payroll. And hey, if he plays for Philly he can keep the house in Jersey. SF will have a pull because it’s where he grew up and he’s always wanted to play there. It will still be about $$$ but if they can come close there could be a chance he goes there.

    I think what also may be a consideration for CC – and I hate to say it but it’s true – the left side of the infield. Arod and Jeter are not gaining range out there, which means more balls going through and potentially more runs. The Yankees have no where to put Jeter (DH, please? – Left/Right – not enough pop or BA) which means he’ll be the Yankee SS for the next 2-3 years. Arod’s entrenched for at least double that time. That has to make a pitcher wince.

    • Dan Schneck

      The Giants have no shot, unless he gives them a hometown discount, and he has never showed that he would even consider doing that for anyone, that’s why he’s a Yankee!!! The Giants are worried about how they can re-sign Lincecum and Cain. I think Timmy will wind up being a Yankee, because no one else will be able to afford him……… I used to love the Yankees when they put together “a team” in the ’96 to ’98 seasons, but as soon as they started “BUYING” players, (see Clemens, ’99) I lost respect, AND THEY STARTED HAVING TROUBLE WINNING!!! There is a reason that they’ve won only one title this century, even though the payroll keeps going up every year, They have a FANTASY TEAM, and not a real one!!!!!!

      • Tommy

        Yeah, only one title in this LONG century. As opposed to what? The Red Sox winning two?

        Good point, Dan. Maybe you should apply for Cash’s spot when his contract is up at the end of the season.