For the sake of this column, and this column alone, let's forget for a moment how unfair the current structure of Major League Baseball is. Forget that the New York Yankees won the Sabathia sweepstakes because they play in the largest market in the country, and have a seemingly unlimited supply of funding. Forget all of that, for just this column.
The Yankees free-wheeling ways continued on Wednesday, as reports have CC Sabathia ready to sign a $161 million contract to wear pinstripes for the next seven years. The contract will include an opt-out clause after three years, after which Sabathia will have already earned $69 million.
I like the idea of the opt-out clause, something that would have been perfect for the Brewers. As badly as I wanted to keep the man that single-handily got us into the playoffs last year, I didn't think it was the right move to pursue Sabathia. The contract we did offer him was already one the Brewers probably couldn't have afforded, and I didn't want to see so much money tied up into one player for the next five to seven years.
My philosophy in sports has always been to do whatever it takes to win now, but don't completely destroy your chances for the future. A lot of people argue the Packers would be a better team this year with Brett Favre, but keeping him would have (probably) cost us the future of Aaron Rodgers.
With the Brewers, I argued for the trade of CC Sabathia because having him for three months was better for the future of the franchise than the career of Matt LaPorta. While we're a long way away from realizing if that will turn out to be true or not, the trade did get the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. So far, so good.
But despite how amazing Sabathia was, I don't think signing him would have been a smart play. Let's say something happens to CC in the next three years, and he either balloons up or injures his arm. Odds are, he's not going to opt out of any deal paying him cold hard cash, and the Yankees will be tied down by that money til 2016. Alright, maybe not tied down, since they are the Yankees, but still a lot of money nonetheless.
That's money the Yankees can afford, while the Brewers can not. If Milwaukee is going to be competitive in the next six to seven years, they need that money to not only sign free agents, but retain a lot of their bright young stars. Putting all that money towards one person would jeopardize the team around him.
Sabathia will likely be a great pitcher though for the next few years. He might even win a Cy Young in that time as well. I think this signing is a great move for the Yankees, but would have been a bad move for the Brewers.
And because of the current structure of Major League Baseball, that's the unfortunate truth.
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