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Report: Sabathia likely to opt out of deal after this season

Feb 15, 2011, 12:17 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers, Game 6 Getty Images

Craig addressed earlier why the matter isn’t worth freaking out about, and that probably still holds true because the baseball season is long and because anything can happen, but it appears that this is now becoming a near fact: CC Sabathia, if everything goes according to plan production-wise, will opt out of his current contract in the fall of 2011.

That’s what Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News heard from a source on Monday night, it is what the great Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports guessed earlier this evening. And, well, it makes complete sense.

If Sabathia pitches like he has for the last three seasons — finishing with an ERA under 3.50 and a strikeout total near 200 — the Yankees will almost certainly buck up and give him a small raise like they did with third baseman Alex Rodriguez a couple of seasons ago.

Right now, Sabathia’s contract calls for a $23 million salary per season through 2015. With another dominant stat line, he could push that to something like $25 million a year and maybe even add coverage through 2016. The Yankees would probably make a quick bid and Sabathia would probably accept. He seems comfortable in New York and seems to enjoy playing with the Yanks’ current cast of characters.

Of course, the sane baseball fan is probably wondering why this is a conversation. It’s just way too early. If Sabathia spends an extended amount of time on the disabled list this season or simply doesn’t pitch all that well, the whole narrative changes. The Yankees aren’t going to suddenly restructure the deal this winter with no leverage at all. It’s a non-story until Sabathia starts compiling starts and we can play with the numbers.

The thought of a free agent market populated by Sabathia and Albert Pujols is a fun one, but it’s just a thought at this point for both cases.

  1. quintjs - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Just like he would never sign with the Yankees in the first place? Sorry, I just don’t trust what anyone has to say about Sabathia’s intentions.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 15, 2011 at 8:02 AM

      The difference is that one opinion (he’ll never sign with the Yankees!) was uninformed speculation saying he cares about something other than money, while the other opinion (he’ll opt out!) is saying he still cares about money. There isn’t even really any reason for him NOT to opt out.

  2. baseballstars - Feb 15, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    Very risky move by CC. What if the Yankees don’t give him more? Or if Cashman isn’t around to sign outrageous contracts? They already gave in and added $21 million on the original contract. I think what he signed is more than fair.

    I’m a die-hard Yankees fan, but I personally believe the teams that work hard and develop their young talent should be able to reap the rewards of that (and to be fair, that happens some of the time). For too long, the Yankees have held the philosophy that they can just buy other talent instead of developing it. Now with a horrible rotation, they are seeing why it’s important to develop young talent. They are getting what they deserve. I hate admitting that, I want the Yankees to go 162-0 and sweep the playoffs, but I hate their player development.

    • quintjs - Feb 15, 2011 at 2:57 AM

      If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs and and CC opts out, A-Rod will be the third highest earner on the Yankees, not the first. (Pujols 10 years, 350million – CC Sabathia 6 years, 183million).

      No that isn’t serious, but the point is the Yankees would re-sign CC to a much larger contract than he is on now. Lets be honest, the Yankees don’t have a rotation without Sabathia. They have a great lineup and a terrific bullpen but no rotation. Sabathia would be smart to either opt out (remembering A-Rod said he wouldn’t) or press for an extension.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      Right, because it’s Cashman who went batshit crazy on A-Rod’s second deal and panicked himself into giving Rafael Soriano the most player-friendly contract in baseball. Oh, wait, that was Hank and Levine. Cashman being gone won’t stop CC from getting the Brinks truck backed up – it might help him.

    • baseballstars - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      quintjs, I’m afraid the Red Sox, Angels, and other teams would be in on CC and there’s absolutely no guarantee he’d be wearing pinstripes the year after he opts out. Kevin, I hate the contract. Cashman’s performance the past few years has been mediocre, apart from CC, Swish, and Wood. Last offseason was absolutely horrid. It reminded me of the teams in the mid 00s that had talent, but was straddled with aging vets who didn’t really contribute to the team. And a lack of pitching.

      Bottom line – if CC opts out, the Yankees will either have to overpay, or they will offer a huge contract and lose out (causing them to lose out on other free agents, just like what happen this offseason with Lee). It’s a bad situation because of a bad stipulation in the contract. Unless Cashman didn’t make the contract or didn’t oversee it, then he’s guilty here.

  3. uyf1950 - Feb 15, 2011 at 4:52 AM

    Guy’s I don’t believe he will opt out. But even if he does to get a little more money it’s a non issue. So he opts out. His contract right now if he didn’t opt out would take him to his 34th birthday. He would turn 35 half way into his final year of that contract in 2015. So he opts out. The Yankees resign him to an additional 2 years an pay him $25MM per for 6 years starting in 2012. So it winds up costing the Yankees $2MM more per season for the 4 years he would have been under contract and $25MM per for the 2 new years of the agreement. It’s a non issue. He would still be a year younger then Cliff Lee in the final year of each of their contracts. As well as a year younger then Roy Halladay in the final year of his contract in 2014. Like I said it’s no big deal. It’s not like the Yankees can’t afford it and it’s not like if CC pitched well and never opted out that the Yankees would resign him at the end of this contract for 2 more years. I guess the easiest and the most practical way to look at it is if CC had never signed his original contract with the Yankees and he were to hit the the market for the 2012 season with his resume at 31 years of age would the Yankees or any other big market team/high profit team for that matter not make him an offer in $25MM range for 6 years? The answer is of they they would. Just like the Rangers, Phillies and Yankees did this past winter for an older and in many aspects not as good Lee. That’s my opinion..

  4. paperlions - Feb 15, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    If he repeats last year’s performance, why wouldn’t he opt out? There won’t be any FA pitchers for the Yankees to get to replace him and without him they will be extremely desperate for starting pitching. I know Yankee fans think they will magically trade for an ace this year (though which prospects they would trade away that would make them an attractive trade partner is not clear, as the Yankees actually need to keep their top guys for their own use); but even if they do trade for one, they will STILL need Sabathia, and would be willing to pay him a little more to keep him.

  5. hnirobert3 - Feb 15, 2011 at 7:40 AM


  6. psousa1 - Feb 15, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Is there a discernable difference between 23 and 25 million? His agent will get a commission on a new contract. He will opt out unless he gets injured or has a bad year.

  7. BC - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    If he goes 21-8, 3.10 he’ll opt out. If he goes 15-15, 4.30 he won’t. Plain and simple.

  8. uyf1950 - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    I’m not sure how we go from CC’s interview to the headline on this blog “Sabathia likely to opt out of deal after this season”. I heard the interview and read most of his comments, and it’s an awfully big leap to go from those comments to the headline here. Just because he didn’t say unequivocally he was NOT opting out. Why would he? The time when he can or won’t isn’t here yet. If someone were to ask anyone of you if you would still be working for your current employer one year from today and give them an unequivocal yes or no could you? I realize my example is an over simplification of CC’s situation but it still is to point. Like I said above, I do NOT expect him to “opt out” but even if he does it’s a non issue because a couple of million dollars added to the remaining years on that contract plus a couple of addition years are not a big deal. CC would still not be any older if he renegotiates a new contract with the Yankees then Lee or Halladay will be when their contracts are up with the Phillies. In fact he will probably be a year younger.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      Except you assume that he will just sign with the Yankees again. I think he is definitely going to opt out…why wouldn’t he? Do you honestly see the Red Sox letting him go back to the Yankees without a fight? How about the Angels who have alot of money burning a hole in their pockets and still feeling the sting from not getting him last time.

      If anything, this would be MUCH scarier then when A-Roid opted out for the Yankees because:
      1) They have no starting pitching without the big man
      2) There will be other suitors for CC

    • Ari Collins - Feb 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM

      “That’s what Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News heard from a source on Monday night”

  9. jh0088 - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Everyone’s still standing by their initial statements on this from yesterday. UYF1950 refuses to believe he will opt out. That’s fair, i can buy that. I for one, still believe that if CC looks at 2011 as a contract year he may actually be able to dial it up from what was an already great starting place. And we need all the help we can get on the mound this year. Short term it’s a massive help for the Yanks. Long term it may just cost a little more money to keep him.

    And if he does leave, say for his home town Giants, we’ll have gotten one of the greatest years ever out of any pitcher.

    As for him going to the Giants, I don’t think CC signed with the Yanks solely for the money. I think he wanted to find a winner. Otherwise he could have stayed in Milwaukee. But now that the Giants have proven they can win, he may want to just “go home” as so many other baseball players talk about.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 15, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      Your comment about players wanting to “go home as so many other baseball players talk about”. The problem with that comment is virtually non of them actually do go home. Most go for the money. Besides as I’ve already mentioned the Giants have committed approximately $125MM in payroll for the 2012 season. Do you honestly think they want to take on approximately another $25MM per if CC went home. But that’s just my opinion.
      BTW, I’ve also stated here that if he does opt out it’s a non issue. So it cost the Yankees a couple dollars more and they add a couple of years to his contract. Which they would have done in any case when this contract would have expired since he would have just turned 35 at that point. I just think everyone is reading way to much into CC’s comments or lack of comments. Everyone should remember his stated reason for the “opt out” clause was to see if his family was happy here. There is absolutely no indication that his family is unhappy or looking for a change.

  10. aronmantoo - Feb 15, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Of course he will opt out, Again he can go to the highest bidder. How many millions does a person need. The only loyalty today’s atheletes have is money

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