The New York Yankees played well above their talent level in 2011, at least as far as their pitching was concerned.
We knew they'd have a powerful offense, just as much as we knew a rotation rounded out with A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia wouldn't be able to deliver them a World Series championship.
Sure enough, faced against a Detroit Tigers squad with a deeper rotation, the Yankees ended up getting knocked out of the playoffs during the ALDS.
The eyes of CC Sabathia were wide open.
At this point, CC is spending the early part of his offseason debating what his next move will be. Will he honor the $150-plus million contract he signed three years ago or will he opt out of his current deal in favor of a new, more lucrative deal?
Here are just a few reasons why CC Sabathia may opt out of the remaining four years on his contract with the New York Yankees.
CC Sabathia would be the ace of most pitching staffs in Major League Baseball, yet he is more than an anchor with the Yankees at this point.
Sure, they brought in a 38-year-old Bartolo Colon and a 35-year-old Freddy Garcia for the 2011 season, but at this point it's more than obvious that those kind of pitchers aren't going to get the Yankees to the World Series.
Ivan Nova had a stellar season, and out of nowhere he became the No. 2 starter in the Bronx. Unfortunately, he and CC can only carry the Yankees so far. Their offense alone can carry them to an AL East title, like it did this season, but CC is well aware of the fact that their current rotation won't win in the playoffs.
Aside from a couple of good looking prospects, the Yankees don't have much to look forward to as far as pitching is concerned. You can bet he won't make his decision based on the potential of young prospects anyway.
My guess is that Sabathia will opt out of his deal to watch how the Yanks pursue C.J. Wilson. When they do sign Wilson, CC will use that as leverage for a larger deal.
Mariano Rivera: 41 years old
Derek Jeter: 37 years old
Alex Rodriguez: 36 years old
A.J. Burnett: 34 years old
Yeah, I shouldn't have included A.J. Burnett with the other three future Hall of Famers, but the fact is the Yankees have hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in very old, declining players.
As deep as their pockets may appear to be, in the end, they realistically can't go sign every player they want to, especially because three of the four players listed above (not including Rivera) will come nowhere near earning the value of their current contracts.
Five years ago, the core of the Yankees were still a formidable group of superstars who appeared to have a few World Series titles ahead of them, though they have since turned into a mediocre group of former superstars.
CC Sabathia is one of my favorite pitchers in Major League Baseball, but anyone who believes he was worth a $150 million-plus deal that included an opt-out clause is either a Yankees fan or a moron.
As long as CC could stay healthy, he was surely going to win a ton of games for a team built around a high-octane offense. It's a lot easier to pitch when you know the lineup behind you has your back.
With the Yankees' current pitching situation, CC more than knows his value with the team. He will opt out, knowing with a surety that the Yankees will outbid themselves to re-sign him.
They can't afford not to, really.
CC Sabathia—or at least his agent—set up his current deal to perfection.
Sabathia will turn 32 years old next season and his current deal would expire when he's 35. He'd be lucky to get a three-year deal at that point, so why not opt-out now to maximize his value during a free-agent period that is rather weak in regards to starting pitchers?
CC could very well sign a deal this offseason that would leave him making $20 to $25 million per season during his age 35 through 38 seasons. There is no chance he'd be able to secure that kind of money after his current deal expires.
Opting out now would earn him another six- to eight-year deal that would lock him up until he's almost ready for retirement, and that's exactly what he will do.