Cashman Ups Only Legit Bid Out There for Overweight Lefty
At least there's a lot to love about CC Sabathia, all 311 pounds of him at last check during the playoffs. When the Yankees ballooned their offer to the free agent to $161 million over seven years, that made it over $500,000 per pound, but who's counting?
Yes, he was the best pitcher on the open market and did deserve an expensive, long-term contract. But even with that in mind, the only other deal on the table appeared to be from the Brewers, who tried to keep Sabathia in Milwaukee with a five-year, $100 million offer. While certainly no small potatoes, it was easily trumped by the Yankees' original six-year, $140 million monster.
Sabathia did everything possible to find another taker closer to his northern California home. Neither the Dodgers, Angels or Athletics were ever serious players in the sweepstakes, and the Giants - who are still reeling from Barry Zito mistake - were rumored to have made a trivial offer, hoping for a huge hometown discount. Sabathia made it clear that he preferred the west coast and the National League, but also money was the main issue.
When it was all said and done, the only legitimate offer that Sabathia had was from the Yankees, and he still was able to make them feel that it was he who held them over a barrel. For reasons only known to Sabathia, his very happy wife Amber and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, the offer went up instead of going down once they all convened at the Sabathia mansion (soon to be upgraded).
"When the opportunity was given, that's a flight I have to take," Cashman told reporters of the continuation process of negotiations that began at the winter meetings in Las Vegas over the past few days.
Apparently a big addition to the contract was a player opt-out clause after three years. If Sabathia and his family decide that New York is not their cup of tea, then he can walk away in 2011 with the $69 million he already pocketed.
Only 28 years old, Sabathia has a career mark of 117-73 in eight seasons, spent mostly in Cleveland before being dealt to Milwaukee right last July. As a Brewer, Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, carrying the team on his back into the playoffs as the NL's wild card entry.
Arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Sabathia now becomes the highest paid one, jumping over the six-year, $135 million deal the Mets gave Johan Santana after trading for him a year ago. Now there are two top lefthanders in New York, who will no question be compared over and over again.
Now that the Yankees have their 'ace,' Cashman is looking to fill the next hole. "We need to improve our rotation, and it's not just one," he told reporters. "It's more than one. My intent this winter is to try to improve the club any way I possibly can, but the main focus is going to be the rotation."
Up next is Toronto righthander A.J. Burnett, who opted out of a contract that was paying him $11 million a year to see if he could shake someone down for more. Enter the Yankees, who reportedly have a five-year, $80 million contract ready for the often injured hurler to sign. That would be a raise of $5 million every summer, not bad for a guy with an ERA over four and only nine games over .500 in a decade of experience. The former Met farmhand went 18-10 at the right time and started over 30 games for only the third time.
The printing press in the Bronx is working overtime. Once Burnett - or whoever else the second future multi-millionaire in pinstripes is - comes on board, the team will be improved. No one will question that.
But will that be enough to win number 27? Sabathia will be a big part of the team's success, and he has 311...I mean 161 million reasons to make that a reality.