CC Sabathia is the best free agent pitcher on the market this winter. He is coming off arguably the best year of his career and he is just 31 years old. But when teams line up to make an offer to the big left-hander, they should be cautious before offering him the huge contract that he is hoping to get.
The New York Yankees are faced with the harsh reality that they could lose Sabathia thanks to an opt out clause in the original seven-year, $161 million contract he signed before the 2009 season. They are going to do anything and everything they can to keep him.
However, there are going to be plenty of teams that will jump into the bidding for Sabathia's services. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman wrote that there will be at least six teams who could make a pitch to the 2007 American League Cy Young winner.
The Yankees have already made a new contract offer to Sabathia and remain the favorites to keep him, although the Cubs, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays and Cubs are also considered possibilities. The Yanks' offer was made over the weekend, but no details have been announced.
While you do have to appreciate Sabathia's overall body of work throughout his career (176-96, 3.51 ERA, 2,364.1 innings pitched, 2017 strikeouts), his actual body is cause for concern.
Sabathia has never had a great baseball body and it has just gotten bigger as his career has gone on. He is listed as 6'7", 290 pounds, but he is probably over three spins by now. He will turn 32 next July, which is around the time when most players leave their peak years and begin their decline.
If some team can sweet talk Sabathia into accepting a three- or four-year deal for a lot of money, which is what he just walked away from, they should do it. But when you start getting into five or more years for someone built like him, you are asking for trouble.
The Yankees can afford to overpay Sabathia, they are doing it right now with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, A.J. Burnett and Rafael Soriano, but it still does not make smart business sense to keep doing it.
We all know Sabathia is going to get paid, but teams should be cautious because he is going to start his decline sooner rather than later.