Anthony McCarron of the New York DailyNews wrote a piece yesterday cautioning any team who signs CC Sabathia to a $100 million-plus contract.
The previous 4 $100 million pitching contracts have not resulted in much — sans Johan Santana.
Long-term contracts for pitchers are generally considered risky by baseball executives, but when deals reach the $100 million mark, teams flirt with doom. In the brief history of $100 million contracts for pitchers – there have been only four, including Kevin Brown who signed a seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers before the 1999 season – every pitcher except Johan Santana last season has been plagued by injuries, ineffectiveness or both.
I remember wincing at the $105 million contract that the Dodgers gave Kevin Brown because I remembered that he wasn’t that good of a pitcher in the first place. Sure he had pitched in the Marlin’s 1997 World Series team, but I didn’t feel he deserved a $100 million contract. I’d have thought back in 1999 either Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, or Greg Maddux would have gotten the first $100 million contract.
Now that Santana has actually been decent enough this past season, all he has to do is turn out production on 5 similar seasons like this past one and he’ll be considered a successful contract signing.
However, McCarron points out that the Yankees can afford to get this contract because they need a product to sell the fans.
“The Yankees are the one team who has to err on the high side coming into this season. Once the novelty of the new park wears off – and at those prices, it might wear off quicker – they will have to deliver a product.
“People will have to feel like they are coming to see the Yankees, a team that is going to be in the postseason. The Yankees are sort of in a corner right now where it’s probably not the worst thing if they took on more risk than they might want to.”
The novelity of the new stadium will wear off in 2-3 years. That means aside from emerging stars like Joba Chamberlain, Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson, Andrew Brackman, Phil Coke, and the possible reemergence of Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano gets settled into the mettle of the Yankee fan mind, there needs to be a marquee player to replace the big ego we had in Roger Clemens in the pitching rotation, and CC Sabathia is the person to do that.