C.C. Sabathia is under contract with the Indians for the 2008 season. It’s still Spring Training with the entire season ahead of us. Yet, for some reason, sports writers are surprised that C.C. won’t talk about the possibility pitching in New York next year. Tampering, folks. It’s a bad thing.
Because it’s never too early to start speculating on next winter, Jon Heyman at SI.com checks in with C.C. Sabathia. It is seemingly a foregone conclusion that the Indians and Sabathia will part ways in November. The Indians have acknowledged it; C.C. has acknowledged it.
And when one of the game’s top lefty starters hits the open market, we all know what that means: a good, old fashioned free agent bidding war. Sabathia figures to command a contract in excess of $100-$120 million, and of course, our favorites are right at the top of Heyman’s list of likely suitors:
1. Yankees. Long seen as the most logical destination for Sabathia, the big reason they balked at Santana was their reluctance to part with top pitching prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Since it’ll only cost them money (and draft choices), and Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte could be coming off the books, they remain the favorite. A perfect replacement in case this is Pettitte’s last year, a real possibility.
Of course, Sabathia makes sense for the Yanks whether or not Pettitte continues his “one more year” shtick or not. The Yanks have money coming off the books, and one can never have too much starting pitching, let alone lefties in the Bronx.
The Yankees will go hard after Sabathia, and they need only give up money this time. It’s a match made in baseball heaven. All Carsten Charles needs to do is turn in another top season and avoid injury. The gold is waiting for him at the end of the rainbow.
We’re moving out of one Hot Stove League and into another. This morning, C.C. Sabathia announced that he will wait until the end of the season to negotiate a new deal with the Indians. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll test the free agency waters. There will be time between the end of the season and the free agency filing period, even if the Indians do go to the World Series. But for now, it appears Sabathia will pitch out the final year of his contract.
Then again, this doesn’t really mean that negotiations are dead. If you’ll remember back to last year, Carlos Zambrano not only said that he wanted a deal done before the season started, he said he’d leave the Cubs if that wasn’t the case. Four and a half months after the season began, he signed a five year, $91.5 million extension. So we can’t really take this as the be all, end all. I’m sure if Mark Shapiro blew him away with an offer, he wouldn’t outright refuse it.
This is good news for the Yanks, though, who have a ton of money coming off the books after this season. We have Farnsworth ($5.5 million), Pavano ($11 million), Giambi ($21 million), Abreu ($16 million), and Mussina ($11 million) this season, and both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui at $13 million each next year. So there will be funds for this transaction. It’s just a matter of Mr. Sabathia’s demands.
He’s probably going to want six years, and I’d say somewhere around the $137.5 million given to Johan Santana. Is that something you’d do as a free agent signing? It’s very tempting, especially for a horse like Sabathia. Then again, when we were debating the merits of Santana, many of us pointed out the high innings total as a red flag, an indication that he might break down sometime during the deal.
But someone is going to pay CC. Might as well be us.
The Yanks may have lost out on Johan Santana, but for one year, I think we’ll be okay. “One year?” you ask. “What happens in one year?” Well, that’s when C.C. Sabathia becomes a free agent. It’s highly doubtful that Indians will re-sign Sabathia after 2008 as Paul Hoynes and Jim Ingraham write. The Indians, very much in competition for the AL Central, can’t trade C.C. this year. So when November rolls around, I’d expect a good ol’ fashioned bidding war. It’s never too early…