The New York Yankees are never short of drama, and at the start of spring training, ace CC Sabathia became the latest headline.
After finishing the 2008 season without making the playoffs, the Yankees went on an offseason spending spree. The team’s biggest purchase was ace Sabathia, who inked a monster contract worth $152 million to keep him in pinstripes for seven seasons.
Sabathia, being from the West Coast, was reluctant to call the Bronx home. So, along with the cash came an opt-out clause that allowed for Sabathia to say adios at his discretion after three seasons.
The added reassurance might have been the reason Sabathia finally signed but now could cost the Yankees their ace or dollars, and Yankee fans are concerned.
From the moment Sabathia stepped on the mound at Yankee Stadium, he has been worth every penny.
To say he is the Yankees' ace is an understatement, as Sabathia has been a CY Young-caliber pitcher, posting a 40-15 record, a 3.27 ERA, with 394 strikeouts. He is an absolute workhorse and innings-eater, throwing for 468 total.
The Yankees won the 2009 World Series and made it to the 2010 ALCS on Sabathia’s shoulders. He was named the 2009 ALCS MVP, made the 2010 All-Star team and came in fourth and second in the CY Young voting respectively.
Not only is this 6’7" athlete a giant player but an absolutely delightful teammate, who was embraced by Yankee fans like he had been here his whole career.
So, when Sabathia answered the question of why he wouldn’t opt out during a TV interview at a Knicks game on December 8, 2010, fans thought the ace said he was here to stay.
Sabathia’s exact words were:
“I signed up for seven years, and this is a good organization. You get a chance to win a championship every year, so it was an easy decision.”
Well, now this tune has changed, as Sabathia didn’t reiterate the same sentiments the first day of spring training. It is what he didn’t say that is making Yankee fans anxious, as Sabathia didn’t utter the same words and left the door open that anything can happen regarding his contract.
The latest news, reported by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, claims that Sabathia will exercise his opt-out clause at the end of the 2011 season. Here is an excerpt from the article:
"Get ready for déjà vu.
CC Sabathia can opt out of the final four years and $92 million of his contract at the end of this season, and while he seemingly has no desire to go anywhere else, it's likely the big left-hander will tear up his contract next fall in search of one more massive payday." Read full article HERE.
Yankee fans need not panic, as opting out makes perfect sense for 30-year-old Sabathia.
We all just witnessed Sabathia’s former teammate Cliff Lee get a monster contract this offseason at age 32.
Every Yankee fan knows Lee desired the Phillies over the Bombers, for a tune of $120 million for five seasons. Lee also has a six-year option, with a guaranteed $12.5 million if he doesn’t play and $25 million if he does pending he meets all the contractual requirements laid out.
What person wouldn’t look to earn top dollar before it might be too late?
No one I know.
Sabathia loves being a Yankee and vice versa, so I don’t see this being anything more than a business and financial opportunity.
The Yankees will pay up to re-sign the ace, pending Sabathia pitches as well in 2011 and no horrific injury occurs.
Some have the opinion that the Yankees should let Sabathia walk and use the $92 million to acquire new arms, but this doesn’t seem feasible. You have to consider the 2012 free-agent pitching market is featuring Chicago White Sox’s Mark Bherele and Texas Rangers CJ Wilson, as the best two available with no contract options.
Also, the Sabathia family has settled in a beautiful home in New Jersey and live there year round. The house was featured in Architectural Digest about two months ago, making it not an easy place to leave so soon.
This is Sabathia’s chance to bolster the last years of his career with more time and more money. Sabathia needs what is best for him and his family, but this doesn’t mean he lost any love for the pinstripes.
Without question, Sabathia is one of baseball’s top-five starting pitchers and ending his career in the Bronx would seem to be inevitable. It makes no sense for this relationship to get a divorce, unless both want to suffer apart.
Let’s put this drama on the back burner and get ready for the 2011 season to start.