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And we now begin eight and a half months of freaking out about Sabathia’s opt-out clause

Feb 14, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT


More weighty news relating to CC Sabathia than his choice of breakfast cereals involves his contract. As in, the fact that he has the ability to opt-out of it after this year if he wants, and that has caused no shortage of consternation among Yankees fans. Yankees fans who, as of this past winter, are now acutely aware that, no, they can’t just sign every damn player they want.

So, as Sabathia hit Tampa today, and after the fun stuff about his weight was discussed, he was asked about his opt-out clause.  His comments: a statement that he has no intention of leaving the Yankees but that “anything is possible in a contract.”  He then added that he won’t be discussing it anymore because, you know, there’s work to be done.

I have no idea how else one could handle that. It would be the height of folly for Sabathia to verbally commit to any course of action right now. To do so risks him being characterized as a villain or a liar or a mercenary or whatever if he ends up leaving. Or it foolishly cuts off his negotiating leverage if he indeed plans to stay. Or — and I realize this is totally insane — he might not have any idea what’s going to happen this year and has no idea what he’s going to do about his opt-out. In light of that, it makes absolute perfect sense for Sabathia to be positive about staying in New York but ultimately non-committal.

But I have this feeling that — if Sabathia holds true to the smart course and declines to discuss this matter any further until next fall — the “anything is possible” quote will be cited umpteen times in the next several months as Meaning Something Terribly Important. And with it will be accompanied by the expected freaking out by the expected freak-outers.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    “Anything is possible” roughly translates into “I saw what you offered to Cliff Lee. I’m younger, you’ve got no choice. I’ll take seven more years, please.”

    • yankeesfanlen - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      And I pray it’s as simple as that. Done deal, elapsed time 3 minutes.

    • marshmallowsnake - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      If he leaves that would be awesome! I love the recent downturn in fortune for this team after years of overpaying and throwing money at people like they have their own printing press. This would just be another notch in the belt for the rest of baseball.

  2. Lukehart80 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Carsten Charles misses Cleveland. He’s going to opt-out and sign with the Indians for 10 years, $25M. No, not $25M a year, $25M total. The Indians will be hesitant to commit to such a big contract, because $2.5M a year is just about their ceiling, and they’re not sure they’ll be able to afford even that by 2015, but sentimentality wins out and they agree to it.

    Carlos Santana is then traded away to save money.

  3. Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Can’t we just be realistic about this? He isn’t going to opt out. Mmmmmkay children? Opt out is bad Mmmmmkay…

    The need to create news will undoubtedly outweigh the need to use common sense, and there is sure to be a media frenzy over “it”.

    • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      Or he COULD opt out. :) And come down here to join up with his mostest bestest buddy in the whole wide world Cliffy…? 😀

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        Cliff looks sooo much better in Red doesn’t he? He looks soo happy and content now. Like he’s finally home.

      • marshmallowsnake - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        This would only happen if the Phillies win the powerball jackpot.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        Absotively posolutely, man. Cliffy in red pinstripes is quite the sight to behold—again. Now, we just need Ben to turn into JDub in the next month and a half.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        BTW. Tweeted this AM


        really official Lee jogs onto field at 10:20 on first day of pitchers and catchers for #Phillies

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM

        For you Philly fans out there. Click it before 1:30 or you’ll regret it.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

        Why do I get this image of Big Joe in a little kid’s chair off to the side? Who knows, maybe the Phour Aces will have him sit in the middle?

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        DAMN!!!!! Question 2 for Big Joe: So, Joe, are you actually surprised to be here?

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:12 PM

        That was pretty awesome. I still have wood. I threw Heywards nickname for these guys out there too. I tried throwing in the whole “it came from a fearful braves fan” But they didn’t post it.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        Jonny5, I have a serious broner myself. That was awesome. I want the season to start tomorrow. Can’t believe we have to wait 6 more weeks PLUS 6 months for the playoffs.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        Try not to think of the “6 more weeks” thing. It’ll just slow things down……

  4. uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    It’s not going to happen. He’s a Yankee plain and simple.

    • skipperxc - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      You’d think…but how well is that working out for the Cardinals concerning Pujols? When you hit that monetary stratosphere it’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        The Cards and Yankees aren’t in the sme statosphere in monetary terms.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM

        The Yankees haven’t been underpaying CC for 8 to 10 years. That’s a pretty big difference. Plus if you consider it CC is being paid pretty much in the same yearly salary range as Lee. The only real difference is Lee’s salary takes him to 37 years of age and CC’s take him to 35 years of age. CC’s getting his salary for 7 years and Lee for just 5 maybe 6 if it vest. Besides the only thing CC could reasonable expect is to have the Yankees add a couple years on to his existing contract. Besides I think the problem between the Cardinals and Pujols is Pujols feels he’s being disrespected by the Cardinals. But that just my opinion.

  5. bcopus - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    This won’t end until he announces, after another year of high expectations not met, that he is taking his talents to South Beach.

  6. bigharold - Feb 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Who cares about next season? The Yankees need to focus on this season. Worry about it in November.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Great point.

  7. phukyouk - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    he aint going nowhere.

  8. sdelmonte - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Note to my fellow New Yorkers with an allegiance to the AL: if this is all you have to worry about, consider yourselves lucky. Better to have this than your ace on the shelf till July, insolvent owners, and all the other stuff the media is tossing out about the Mets. Savor CC. Savor every start. Savor every minute of it.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      I have quite a few Mets fans I work with. I feel terrible for them for the first time in my entire life.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        I second that Jonny5…it’s one thing to have the guys you root for choke up big leads in the division. Or have guys get hurt. But it’s quite another to have crooked(allegedly) owners who have now basically killed the team. In that regard, I feel sympathy.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        I used to enjoy when the Mets had problems. Thoroughly. Now all the pleasure I used to find in trashing them is lost. Such a shame.

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        The damn Mutts are bringin’ EVERYbody down, man!!!!!

  9. apbaguy - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I always defer to Jason on Yankees’ money matters. I certainly have no personal experience with contracts like that, nor do I observe such things with my beloved A’s. But it seems that adding 2-3 years onto the deal with a $2-3M per year sweetner would be the way the Yankees would handle it. One thing that surprised me is the existence of the unrestricted opt-out. You would think the Yanks would have learned from the JD Drew example in LA. Put some parameters around it, at least.

  10. jh0088 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    This just makes 2011 a contract year for Sabathia. For a Yankee team that is in a funk about thei rotation having their ace perform above what was already above average for a pitcher is the best possible thing we could ask for this year. Honestly, I don’t know how CC can dial it up, but if he has another gear, if losing weight is part of it, if he shows somehow more endurance and pitches lights out from March 31 to Nov 4 I am all for letting him opt out. He’ll have earned it and the Yanks can try to pay him more.

    Everyone knew going in that the CC contract was most likely a three year deal to see how he liked New York and how New York liked him.

    I say that I am glad this is a contract year for him. We need some amazing pitching this year.

  11. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I say he opts out and joins the 130-win Philadelphia Phillies. Then we can have Atlanta Braves fans comparing Cole Hamels to Pete Smith, Denny Neagle, and Kent Mercker when they say the Phillies rotation isn’t all that compared to the Braves of the 90’s.

    • BC - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      If the Phils sign CC they’ll win 150 games.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        My friend, the Phillies are already stretched payroll wise. Their going to add approximately $25MM per season for the next 5+ years that is already estimated by baseball-reference to hit about $164MM for both the 2011 and 2012 season. Add CC’s estimated payroll on to that and you are looking at about $190MM. Not going to happen my friend.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        No way. They don’t have Jayson Werth anymore. How can they POSSIBLY struggle through a season without him? He was the entire lineup the last two years. Without him, who is going to hit? Ryan Howard? Bleh, he’s the most overrated player in baseball. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are old and done. Shane Victorino and his .327 OBP is horrible. Polanco is always hurt, Ibanez is an old man, Dominic Brown is too young, and Ruiz is a good backstop, but he can’t hit.

        To be honest, I see the Phillies struggling to win more than 110 games this season…4 aces can only take you so far.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        I was going to write something sarcastic about your response, but since you didn’t get it the first time, I doubt you would have gotten it this time. So I figured I would just tell you that I WAS BEING SARCASTIC!!!

  12. uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Just one comment about CC and the possibility of him “opting out”. Certainly is a possibility, but I believe a very, very remote one. One only has to look at the Lee free agency this winter. Lee is 32 years old for the bulk of the 2011 ML season. There were 3 teams we now know involved for Lee’s services Yankees, Rangers and the Phillies. If CC were to opt out at the end of this season he will be 31 years old for the bulk of the 2012 season. Only one years difference between the 2 pitchers during their contract negotiations. Now look at the 3 teams involved in the Lee negotiations. Texas has taken on Beltre’s $96MM contract and Hamilton’s $24MM contract. Texas is estimated to have a payroll of about $130MM for both 2012 and 2013. If they were to take on CC’s $25MM per contract that would put their payroll at about $155MM baring some serious unloading of players contracts before then CC is probably out of reach for the Rangers. Now for the Phillies I explained above their circumstances but I’ll show it again here. Phillies payroll is estimated by baseball-reference to hit about $164MM for both the 2011 and 2012 season. Add CC’s estimated payroll on to that and you are looking at about $190MM. Not going to happen my friends. Looking at some of the “other fringe” teams. The Jays, Orioles, Nationals that ain’t going to happen. Any teams in the AL Central? Very, very, unlikely. CC’s payroll would be to rich for them. The AL West? The Angels couldn’t pull the trigger this winter on players they needed. Going to the National League. The Phillies I already discussed. The Mets don’t have 2 nickels to rub together to sign a player to those types of dollars. Plus does anyone really think CC wants to play for the Mets. The Nationals blew their load on Werth. The NL Central? If they are unwilling to commit to Pujols an “icon” they aren’t going to commit to CC the type of money he’s currently getting never mind more. The Cubs? Possibly, but their payroll estimated by baseball reference for 2012 is $149MM add another $25MM on top for CC I don’t know.. Now for the NL West. The Giants I doubt it. They have a very good young pitching staff that cost very little. Why open pandoras box with a high price pitcher. Lastly, the Dodgers. They are in the same boat as the Mets neither team appears to have 2 nickels to rub together. That really only leaves the Yankees. Of course some team could sneak in but I’d say the chances of that are almost nill. Of course these are all assumptions and just my opinion.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      I wanted to add. It was a very long comment.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      I will translate an uyf1950 comment in 10 words or less.

      “I don’t think CC will opt out.”
      😛 Nailed it!!

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        I said that earlier but sometimes it’s important to explain why. But, thank you anyway, my friend.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      Dude, relax with the Phillies huh…I was being sarcastic. I don’t think there’s a single Phillies fan who actually thinks they are going to go after CC. Then again, I don’t think you would have found a single Phillies fan who thought they would sign Cliff Lee…so who knows. But I’d put that % at 0.000099% possible.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        My friend, my post was not specifically targeting the Philiies. It was a general observation of the ML Teams and who might be interested and how might have the resources to do something.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      How many teams were in the running when A-Rod opted out? I believe it was the Yankees and, er, uh, the Yankees. Not only did he opt out, thus screwing the Yankees over on the money he would have been paid by the Rangers, but he also got MORE MONEY from the, er, uh, Yankees and another crapload of years.

      The lesson? NEVER try to pretend that something like LOGIC relates to ANYTHING that the Yankees do.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        You are missing one very important fact my friend. ARod was represented by Boras. I have no doubt that Boras was the driving force behind ARod opting out. CC is represented by Greg Genske. Where it seems like Boras calls the shots for his players. CC while represented by an agent calls the shots. A very big difference.

  13. Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    He will opt out and sign a deal with the Nippon Ham Fighters, then realize that their team name is actually just the fighters and lament the season where he thought he could have a jersey that says ham fighters on it.

  14. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Articles like this?

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      “If Sabathia were to leave, the Yankees would be left ace-less.”

      Wah wah. The Yankers would be ace-less. What’s this world coming to?

      • Utley's Hair - Feb 14, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        Uh-oh…the first Fiorentino-Heyward exchenge of the the 2011 season….

  15. cur68 - Feb 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    I have no idea what C.C. will do and certainly couldn’t guess from those comments. What I hope he does is lay off the Cap’n Crunch and not backsilde like a junky at a poppy growers convention. In the end, it may come down to Cashman. Remember when George made all that trouble for Winfield? Who’da thought a prolific hitter like that guy would leave the pinstripes (much less attempt to pound old George’s bones to dust)? Not me. But he did because George made his life difficult and money became secondary to his pride. Cashman better not pull a Steinbrenner v. Winfield or the Yankers fans will tar, feather, and hang him by his heels in times square (a fate which this casual observer feels Steinbrenner narrowly escaped). I think he might already be on thin ice with Carsten Charles. One more Cashman crack about Sabathia’s weight or the like and we’ll see if that produces a more ominous tone from C.C. Meantime I don’t think C.C.’s comments are indicative of much of anything.

  16. jh0088 - Feb 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    CC is from just outside of San Francisco. He likes to bat. CC may just go play for the Giants. Could you imagine him and Lyncecum in the same rotation?

  17. uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    I’m telling all of you that are anticipating or hoping CC opts out you are going to be very disappointed.

    • jh0088 - Feb 14, 2011 at 7:09 PM

      why wouldn’t he opt out even if it were just to force the Yanks to pay him more?

  18. billybeaneismyhero - Feb 15, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Weighty news on Sabathia? Well played Calcaterra. Well played…

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