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CC Sabathia says he won’t opt out of contract after 2011, but it would make financial sense if he did

Dec 8, 2010, 10:15 AM EDT

CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract with the Yankees contains a clause that allows him to opt out after three seasons, which means he could become a free agent next offseason.

Doing so would involve passing on the four years and $97 million remaining on the deal after 2011, but given the reports of Cliff Lee fielding six- and perhaps even seven-year offers it seems likely that Sabathia could secure more than $100 million for more than four years.

However, yesterday Sabathia told George King of the New York Post that he will not opt out of the contract and explained that Lee’s current situation “has no effect on me at all.”

I believe Sabathia, but it’ll be interesting to see if his stance changes once next offseason rolls around and his agent tells him it would be pretty easy to top the $97 million remaining on his contract. After all, why negotiate the opt-out clause into the contract in the first place if using it was never in the plans? Lee is 32 years old and sounds likely to sign for at least $125 million and perhaps significantly more. Next winter Sabathia will be 31 years old and by that point $97 million over four years may look like a bargain.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    But…but…He’s a TRUE Yankee and won’t bother re-negotiating because he wants to retire with the team that has meant so much to him.

  2. Ari Collins - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    A-Rod and Drew also said they wouldn’t opt out. But yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s going to get more than four years if he’s on the open market next year.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:33 AM

      Ari, one huge difference CC isn’t represented by Scott Boras. I see you hedged your bet. He might very well get more money IF he hits the open market after next year. But at this point all we can do the take the big guy at his word, and that is that he won’t opt out. You may find this hard to believe but there just might be one or two athletes out there that believe their word is there bond.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    Of course he won’t opt out because he is not crazy.

  4. Kevin S. - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Why negotiate it? Because there were concerns about how well his family would adjust to the New York area, IIRC – the opt-out was for his peace of mind. Now, if he were to use it to negotiate a better contract, that’d absolutely be his right and I wouldn’t blame him for it, but it wasn’t put in there because the plan was to use it.

  5. uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    To Aaron, I believe the main reason CC wanted the opt clause was that he wasn’t sure about pitching in NY. I do not believe it was an issue of thinking he could get more money. Certainly things can always change, but why not choose to believe the big guy and believe he is a man of his word. Has he lead anyone to believe he is not to this point?

    • Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:26 PM

      It was probably originally the case of not being sure about pitching in NY. However when someone calls a friend of a friend of a friend of your agent and says that Anaheim will throw down 7 years at 160 all previous statements are null.

  6. BC - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    He’ll pull an A-Rod – opt out, then sign back for more cash.

  7. yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    I don’t think CC has any intentions of using the opt out clause in the contract either, he has gotten everything he wanted when he signed with the Yanks and the city and the fans both have welcomed him and his family in every possible way. CC is one of the biggest reasons the Yanks won the World Series in 2009 and not just because of his pitching. He along with other guys like Swisher loosened up the tight locker room atmosphere and that really allowed the team to do well. CC has said in many articles since signing with the Yankees that he cannot imagine pitching anywhere else now, and I am willing to believe him.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM

      Well said, my friend.

    • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:48 AM

      This is an example of the type of narrative based, non-rigorous thinking that leads to non-optimal decision making. The city and the fans have welcomed him so he will leave anywhere between $25 and $50 million dollars on the table…? The trend of inflation in baseball contracts would seem to indicate that he could make a lot more money by exercising his opt out. Yes there may be a few players who value something over money but I think we would all agree that the vast majority do not. Lets say generously that 10% of players are not all about the money, that 90% of players who are all about the money say that they are not, and that 99.9% of players who are not all about the money say so. then by a simple Bayesian analysis, the probability that CC will not opt out after saying that he wont is about 11%.

      • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:50 AM

        my point is not that I am certain that CC will opt out, merely that him saying so is not really very good evidence as long as you believe that people are capable of lying when it comes to how they are perceived.

      • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM

        So according to the way you think people are liars until they prove otherwise. Well my friend you believe what you want to believe and I will believe what I want to believe.

    • mcsnide - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM

      Opting out doesn’t preclude staying with the Yankees. If he thinks he can get more money and a longer-term contract by opting out, a la A-Rod, he’d be crazy not to. The point isn’t “CC would leave the Yankees”, but “CC would force the Yankees to increase his salary and/or give him a longer deal.” Really, who exactly is going to beat the Yankees in a bidding war?

      • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

        @yankees1996: what I said was that I believed that 90% of players who are all about the money, would say otherwise in public. based on that assumption I found that the public statement by a player that he is not all about the money is not a good reason to think that a player is not all about the money. my assertion is based on reason, your opinion is just that. which of my assumptions do you take issue with? i ran the numbers again with 25% of players not being all about the money and just 75% of those who are being PR savvy enough to lie about their intentions. in this scenario, CC saying he wont opt out gives you a 31% chance that he is sincere. now that’s a much better chance but is still not over 50%. my larger point is that believing something because is is comforting to you is a good way to ensure non-optimal outcomes, which will prove far more detrimental than facing up to uncomfortable realities.

    • BC - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

      The second he’s able to opt out – assuming he’s still healthy – he’s opting out.

  8. pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    also if you look at the free agent class of pitchers after the 2011 season, CC would be head and shoulders above. the only other decent pitcher is mark buerhle. the evidence leans strongly towards CC opting out and to believe otherwise one must present a strong case.

  9. yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    @pwf207 – I take issue with all ASSUMPTIONS and I rely more on actions and facts. When CC was discussing coming to the Yankees his only reason for the opt out clause was because he is from the West coast and he was not sold on playing on the East coast. This was reported by most sports news agencies at the time his contract was being discussed. The Yankees and his agent agreed to put the opt out clause in the contract to make him feel comfortable. He has since stated that he and his family have grown to love NY and he has stated on several occassions that he is not going to opt out of the contract. I do not care about your assumptions or statistics of what other players do or do not. I deal with suspect people everyday but I do my best not to condemn people that I do not know as liars until the facts or their actions prove them to be so. I do not know CC Sabathia so I will extend him the same courtesy and not label him a liar until he proves otherwise. How you choose to look at athletes or the people that you deal with or the people you meet during your daily activities is completely up to you. I do not believe things people tell me becuase they are comforting, I believe what people tell me until I have reason to question it because it is a basic sign of respect.

  10. pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    @yankees1996 – your statement “I believe what people tell me until I have reason to question it because it is a basic sign of respect.” is essentially equal to I believe because I believe. it is a decision making process that is based on a narrative, that people deserve the benefit of the doubt, not on a rigorous assessment of the pertinent facts. you have a principle, and you abide by it, you never deviate from it. what you ignore is the fact that the situation of pro athlete choosing money or loyalty has occurred many times before and unless you have compelling reasons to believe that CC is completely different in this respect from the other athletes who have come before him, you should not ignore this data. large samples are much more likely to yield stable results than small samples, when making decisions under uncertainty (and you yourself say you don’t know CC) one should use processes that yield more stable results. now since I have neither the time nor the inclination to look up and count all the outcomes in previous money vs loyalty situations and then derive probability distributions, I estimated them, conservatively in my mind. I assumed that the true state of things regarding pro athletes is that 90% choose money over loyalty. do you agree or disagree with this? and if you disagree, what do you think the breakdown is? then i assumed that 90% of money choosing players would be PR savvy enough to say otherwise when asked publicly. do you think this an unreasonable estimate? this is really the crucial question, what percentage of people do you think lie when telling the truth is socially damaging and lying is socially beneficial. this is not a question you can punt on, there is a real world number, I don’t know it exactly, you don’t know exactly but there is a percentage; just like there is with how many of Jeter’s flyballs turn into homers. then i assume we agree on 99.9% of loyalty choosing players saying so in public. and from there is is just plugging in a few numbers in an equation and getting a result. if you are going to take the position that you just don’t care about assumptions or statistics, that’s your prerogative but you must then admit, at least to yourself, that you are choosing to examine this issue in a non-optimal manner.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:11 PM

      To pwf207 – you know the biggest difference between your position and yankees1996?
      You (pwf207), assume. And you know what they say about people who assume. In effect you have convicted CC in essence, of guilt by association.
      Yankees1996, takes CC at his word because he hasn’t given anyone reason to call him a lier and doubt what he says.

      • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:42 PM

        To uyf1950 – Thank you for your clear and consice words, they are appreciated.

      • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

        both you and yankees1996 are making the assumption that CC can be taken at his word, as i doubt either of you know him personally. did you believe Lebron when he was going on about how much he loved Cleveland or Tex when it seemed like he wanted to stay with the Angels or when it seemed like he was a done deal to the Red Sox, until lo and behold more money swayed him. how do you decide which free agents to believe and which not to, or do you just believe them all when they say they want to stay, that they love XYZ city and how many times do athletes have to choose money over loyalty for you to stop believing? you may also be interested to know that the 3 year opt out clause was first proposed by the Brewers when they were trying to keep CC and CC and his agent then carried over that demand to negotiations with the Yankees. gee, i wonder why he would want an opt out clause to stay in Milwaukee? maybe so that he could see what the market conditions might be like in the future and re-examine his contractual status.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:11 PM

        To pwf207 – there you go again with all your assumptions.

  11. Ari Collins - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Guys. pwf isn’t making any assumptions. He’s looking at how often athletes say they don’t care about money, and how often they take the cheaper contract. That’s not an assumption. Given the behavior of athletes in general, where the Tim Wakefields and Andy Pettittes of the world are extreme exceptions, it’s quite an assumption to say that Sabathia’s going to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table.

    I wouldn’t even say athletes who say these things are lying. It’s just good PR. Just as you won’t ever hear a player say, “I don’t really like this city.” Or, “I don’t care about the long term health of this franchise.”

    Sabathia said he loved Milwaukee. He said he loved Cleveland. Did he give them discounts to play there? No. I’m not saying he’s a liar, and I’m not saying he’s greedy. There’s nothing wrong with giving the usual PR answers to questions. And there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the structure of the contract the Yankees gave you to either extract more money from them or go to a team that will pay you what you’re worth.

    • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM

      thanks Ari

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:35 PM

      Ari if pwf207 had made the claim in general it would not have been an assumption. Once the claim was made was made/assigned to a specific person in this case CC without evidence to support that claim against that specific person it’s an “assumption”. Call it whatever you like but without specific evidence to support a claim that CC is lying when he says he “will not opt out” it’s an assumption on pwf207’s part.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM

        If most athletes say fluffy PR stuff to reporters about loving their cities and money not mattering, and 98% of the time they still go for the most money, then the burden of proof is on someone claiming that a player doesn’t care about money, yeah. Just as if I said the sun is going to rise tomorrow, sure, I’d technically be making an assumption, but an assumption that most people would take as a safe one. If you want to say that the sun ain’t going to rise tomorrow, well, people will want some proof.

        An athlete’s statements to the press have absolutely zero content to them. They’re not truth or lies; they’re quotes given to the reporters, in return for which the reporters won’t write that someone’s surly with the press and defame their character.

        Does C.C. have any sort of track record of leaving money on the table? His saying the fluff piece quotes that every athlete says is hardly an argument that he’s going to suddenly start taking a paycut over what he’s worth on the FA market.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 4:13 PM

        Ari, well I guess we will see in just about 11 months or so if CC was making nice for PR purposes or if he was telling the “truth”. Until then I’m done with this subject.

    • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM

      Ari you had better go back and re-read his posts that is all he is making is assumptions. He is ASSUMING that because certain athletes have said things and then done the opposite that CC is going to behave the same way, that is an assumption plain and simple. If you tell someone something that you know is not the truth then it is a lie no matter how you look at it. If you don’t believe that then maybe you should speak to some people that have been caught in lies (eg. Bill Clinton). It is not good PR if you are told to stand before a crowd of reporters or fans or anyone else and tell a lie. This is part of the problem now in this country lying and telling the truth is a black and white affair but many people try to do it in techni-color.
      In so far as CC said he loved Milwaukee and he loved Cleveland I know of nothing he has done to harm those two cities so I would believe that he indeed does love those cities, but there is no pro athlete that is going to make a contract decision based solely on his or her love for a particular area and they are not inclined to give hometown discounts for their services either. Your and pwf207s’ opinions about PR answers can be found to be challenged by one Derek Jeter who was very truthful and honest about his recent contract situation with the Yankees in his interview last night. Jeter was not shoveling a load of PR crap and lying to people including the Yanks he was angry and he had no problem admitting it.

  12. yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    @pwf207 – We are going to have to agree to disagree in this matter as you and I just view things differently. I am not assuming anything about CC I am taking the man at his word. Unless I am mistaken it is you who are assuming things and making generalizations about athletes. It is a possibility that he may choose to opt out and pursue a bigger more lucrative contract and in that case he will prove to me that he indeed lied about his intentions and that would prove out your assumptions and generalizations to be true. However to this point he has said that he will not opt out of the contract and as I have already said I choose to believe him whereas you have already found him guilty of lying based upon not what he has done but rather on what other athletes have said and done. You need to look into the reason for the opt out clause in his contract I am pretty sure in his FA year Milwaukee did not offer CC a contract and the only 2 teams that aggressively pursued him were the Yankees and the Angels. Early on it was predicted that he would sign with the Angels because he was not sure he wanted to move away from the West coast, I believe he is from Vallejo, Calif.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:38 PM

      Yankees1996 – I agree. We apparently do not see things the same as pwf207. I guess that’s why they make 31 flavors of ice cream not everyone agrees on the same thing.

      • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM

        @uyf1950 – Agreed and thanks but no thanks it is too damn cold for ice cream.

    • pwf207 - Dec 8, 2010 at 4:09 PM

      @yankees1996 – taking him at his word is an assumption; the definition of assume is (per merriam-webster) “take as granted or true”. you are taking it as true that he won’t opt out, you do not know this to be fact. i am making generalizations because that is the best way to analyze a situation such as this in the absence of specific knowledge. treat CC like any other player, whichuyf1950, is exactly what I did. did either of you think A-Rod was going to opt out and if so how is CC materially different and if if not why shouldn’t that and the behavior of other athletes in similar situations be used to assess CC’s situation. every hitter is different but we still use past data of all hitters to make predictions about future seasons because it has been shown to be better than trying to figure out every individual players career path based on observations just of that player. and Milwaukee did offer him a contract and in August CC said he would not opt out and now he has said that Lee’s contract will have “no effect on him.” he did not say that he won’t opt out, he said Lee’s contract will have no effect. that is an ambiguous statement that requires assumptions to parse. my point all along has been you do see things the same as me, you make assumptions and use those to make your prediction; its just that your assumptions are based on your opinions whereas mine, which was simply that the statement that lee’s contract will have no effect on him is not a good reason to believe he will not opt out, is based on a process that can be tweaked to account for relevant information, such as how often similar situations go one way or another. this is about the process one uses to assess uncertain situations, in the absence of specific knowledge of CC’s thoughts, it is better to assess what has actually happened in the past in loyalty vs money situations than to blindly say, I believe him. i ask again, what’s the difference between ARod and CC? Arod said, I want to stay in NY no matter what, that’s a direct quote, and then he opted out.

  13. bradwins - Dec 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    This is an unbelievably absurd argument. Yanks96 and uyf1950, I do admire your sunshine-soaked optimism, but this line of argument wherein you say “I believe what the man says, and to do otherwise is to assume that he is a liar” is juvenile.

    First, the “assumption” being made by your opponents is not that the man is a liar. They are simply observing that most people in public position do not state ahead of time that they are going to do something unpopular; rather, they say until the last second that they will do what everyone wants them to do and then explain why this did something different after the fact. That is just human nature, and it isn’t the same as being a liar. Its just being a public person.

    Second, it isn’t an “assumption” (at least in the way you guys are referring to it) to look at a body of evidence from similar situations and predict future behavior on such evidence.

    For example, imagine that you got sick and went to the doctor and explained your symptoms, and then based on that the doctor prescribed you some medicine. You wouldn’t say that the doctor is merely “assuming” that the prescribed drugs will treat your illness, even though that may be technically true. Colloquially, “to assume” has a connotation that it is a somewhat weak hypothesis. When the hypothesis is based on empirical evidence it should not be described as an “assumption”.

    In this case, there is substantial evidence that players will say something like what Sabathia said, then ultimately do the most rational thing in the end. Just like owners say coaches jobs are safe and then fire them days later. Its just the way things work. I’m sorry to be the one to reveal this to you.

    • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 5:00 PM

      We all see things very differently, but thank you for your input.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

      Thank you for sharing your opinion.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 8, 2010 at 6:29 PM


      Thanks for more clearly stating what I was trying to get across.

    • pwf207 - Dec 9, 2010 at 9:30 AM

      thanks brad for explaining this as best as it could be done.

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