The ink isn’t dry yet, but when all things are said and done, one CC Sabathia will be introduced in New York City as the Yankees’ new pitching ace in a few days.
Today, it has been reported on multiple media sites that Sabathia has agreed to a seven year, $161 million contract, with an opt out clause and a no trade clause in the deal. The contract was agreed upon at 12:36 am Pacific Coast Time. Brian Cashman flew commercial jet to San Francisco to meet with CC and his wife Amber to discuss things and to finalize the contract parameters.
There are a few things to point out here, notably the value of the contract, the opt out clause, and the big man himself.
The Yankees originally offered 6 years at $140, to make Sabathia the richest pitcher in MLB history (to date) and that offer was made the first day of free agent negotiations. Through the last four weeks, there was not much out of Sabathia or his agent Greg Genske, and the media interpreted the silence as an indicator that Sabathia did not want to pitch in NY and he preferred a West Coast team. That may be possible, but in the end, Sabathia and his agent played smart, and so did the Yankees. They did not sweat, they did not panic, and they did not worry.
With the additional year and the additional $21 million, it is more symbolic for the Yankees and Sabathia as it would have outdone the contract the Mets gave Johan Santana last year. The opt out clause is for 3 years and $69 million, and it’s reportedly for Amber and CC’s three kids if they find themselves unable to adjust to Westchester County living.
The opt out clause is a good thing in my opinion. The Yankees get a good pitcher in his prime for a minimum of three years. Knowing how rich the Yankees’ farm system is and how ready it will be in two to three years, this plays nicely into the Yankees’ hands as they can either retain Sabathia’s services for the duration of the contract, or they can bid him adieu and have their crop of young pitchers ready, most notably Phil Hughes and Mark Melancon (along with Phil Coke, Al Aceves, and Ian Patrick Kennedy). The opt out is also good for Sabathia as he may want to test the market in three years, but be assure the Yankees will make sure that he and his family will be comfortable enough to want to stay for seven (or more) years.
New York had to get him. No matter what. They clearly have the need, and the money. With more than $88 million coming off the books and a new stadium and a network deal, the Yankees are swimming in money and they could afford it. It may look like the Yankees overbid themselves and gave Sabathia too much, but that’s what they needed in order to get this deal done.
If you think about it carefully, this deal did not cost the Yankees anything they would have lost over the Santana deal. They would have to trade Phil Hughes and possibly two more position players to get him from the Twins. Here the Yankees lost nothing and gained themselves one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball.
It’s easy to criticize the Yankees over the price, but think about it carefully, the Yankees did not start this. The San Francisco Giants did with Barry Zito and the Mets did it with Santana. What about A-Rod, you say? Again, it wasn’t the Yankees, it was the Texas Rangers and their initial offer of 10 years at $252 million. Jealously may be a factor here, but it’s pretty logical if you have an abundance of money to spend and there’s a pitcher who greatly improves your team out there and it doesn’t cost any players, you go for it, no matter the cost. That’s what the Yankees did.
Now the Yankees can proceed to focus on the next part of their off season planning, acquiring one or two of the following: AJ Burnett, Ben Sheets, Derek Lowe, and Oliver Perez, and resigning Andy Pettitte. That will give the Yankees Sabathia, Wang, Chamberlain, _______, and Pettitte. That will be among in my opinion, the top three rotations in baseball.
Over the next few days as we start to hear more details and hear from Cashman (who is notorious for being quiet during contract negotiations) and Joe Girardi and see more break-downs and “expert” analysis, we will continue to evaluate the merits of the signing of the Yankees’ new pitching ace.