C.C. Sabathia will opt-out of his contract and become a free agent. The Yankees would love to have him at his former salary for the duration of his former contract. Unfortunately, so we a lot of teams, many of whom have a lot more budget room than the Yankees. His new contract could cost as much as $130 million, or more. At some point, there may be a price too high for the Yankees to pay.
What is that price? We all know how good Sabathia is, how heavy he is, and how much he has pitched lately. He’s 30 years old, and will eventually start to decline. Our recent experiences with Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett should teach us that no how great a player is, they will eventually show the effects of age. C.C. is no different, and this next contract would force the Yankees to be on the hook for some of his decline years.
To make matters worse, the Yankees have to deal with huge liabilities to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the long term, and A.J. Burnett and Derek Jeter in the medium term, not to mention potential long term deals to Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. If the Yankees aren’t careful, they could wind up with an aging, zombie roster and no financial space to bring in new blood. They’ll always be able to afford to run out 8 or 9 expensive players every day, but they can’t pay everyone $20 million.
The hardest part about this while question is that I can’t imagine the Yankees seriously contending in 2012 if Sabathia signs elsewhere. At best, they could replace him with someone like C.J. Wilson, or try to swing a desperate trade for an ace, losing Jesus Montero or another potential 2012 contributor. Their already-shakey starting rotation would be even thinner. However, an albatross contract would start to endanger the Yankees in the second half of this decade.
I’m willing to throw out a number: 5 years, $120 million. He gets the exact same deal that Cliff Lee got from the Phillies. He gets a raise, but only stays on the payroll for one additional year. Lee also has a vesting option, and that’s something I would be very comfortable giving to Sabathia based upon innings pitched, or even Cy Young voting.
So, am I wrong? I got a lot of flak last offseason for wanting to stay away from a monster contract for Lee. What should be our team’s final offer?
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