One pill is for the short term.
One pill is for the long term.
Let’s go with the latter first. CC Sabathia‘s opt-out clause. I haven’t talked about this issue at all since it was reported during the signing (at least I think I haven’t), much less tackled it; now that it’s looming in the distance, I figured it’s about time to at least muse about the big man’s option.
The first concern is the 2012 rotation. If Sabathia opts out–which I’m convinced he will–the Yankees rotation will look pretty shoddy. A Sabathia departure would mean a potential rotation of Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, and Hector Noesi/David Phelps/someone else. Because of this, I’m more than sure the Yankees would at least try to re-sign Sabathia to a deal with a bit more money than the $94M left on the last four years of his contract. The minimum, I think, would be a 5/100 offer from the Yankees. That will stem from one thing: the complete dearth of good starting pitching on the market for the 2011-2012 offseason. Via Cot’s:
Mark Buehrle CWS
Chris Carpenter STL *
Aaron Cook COL *
Kyle Davies KC
Zach Duke ARI
Edwin Jackson CWS
Scott Kazmir LAA *
Paul Maholm PIT
Jason Marquis WAS
Scott Olsen PIT *
Roy Oswalt PHI *
Oliver Perez NYM
Joel Pineiro LAA
Brian Tallet STL
Tim Wakefield BOS
C.J. Wilson TEX
* = Options
The only options I even remotely like are Chris Carpenter and Roy Oswalt but they’re both advanced in age and I wouldn’t feel comfortable having them sign contracts of more than two-three years. But, is that realistic?
Sabathia will be right to take advantage of the option he has. It’s going to put the Yankees in an incredibly tough spot in terms of contract negotiations and they may have to sink even more money into Sabathia if they want to keep him. The alternatives on the free agent market are underwhelming at best and I’m not even going to try and speculate about the trade market a year from now.
There is always the chance that the Yankees just let CC walk if he opts out. Let’s not pretend like there isn’t some upside to this. It would free the Yankee payroll up a lot and it would mean that some other team would be paying for Sabathia’s decline years. But at the same time, what would that payroll be freed up for? The pitching options aren’t very good and Sabathia would leave a large figurative hole in the rotation, as we’ve seen. Yesterday, friends of the blog @jaydestro and @JamalGr kicked around the idea of biting the 2012 bullet pitching wise and attempting to cash in on a pitching heavy free agent class in 2012-2013. Jamal saw the plus side to that, Jay the negative. I’m not sure the Yankee front office will go for that, but if they let Sabathia go, they may just have to.
I can’t say that I’ll blame Sabathia when he opts out. It makes sense for both his job security and financial well being because he’ll likely get more than four years and more than $94M in free agency, whether it’s with the Yankees or someone else.
The other pill to swallow, the short term pill, is about….sigh…Kevin Millwood. I’ve been against the idea of signing Millwood for the entire off season. I think he’ll require a Major League deal and he’s just…not a good pitcher anymore. But, the proverbial worm is starting to turn Millwood’s way.
Mike analyzed the situation earlier this week and I came to a similar conclusion: he’s more likely to throw a substantial amount of innings than the other options are, even in a best case scenario. I took Mike’s numbers a step farther and punched them into the WAR Spreadsheet. These are the results I got:
Bill James Projection: 202 IP, 4.34 FIP, 2.8 WAR
Marcels Projection: 175 IP, 4.61 FIP, 1.9 WAR
CAIRO Projection: 182 IP, 4.84 FIP, 1.5 WAR
PECTOA Projection: 175 IP, 4.75 FIP, 1.6 WAR
For a fifth starter, those are more than acceptable projections (don’t forget about the grain of salt to take with projections). Right now, Millwood looks like a good enough option that it’s worth throwing him some sort of deal. We must remember, though, that the market for him is nearly non-existent. If the Yankees can get him on a minor league deal, they should do it. If Millwood demands a Major League deal, it’s still something worth considering; there’s no way he could get a high salary at this point.
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