George King in the New York Post reports that New York Yankees’ executives have convened in Tampa to put together a plan of action that will keep C.C. Sabathia in their team’s starting rotation.  The large left handed starter has three days after the conclusion of the World Series to opt out of his current contract and leave $92 million over four years on the table as he searches for something bigger.

It’s a given that he’ll opt out, but there’s only slightly less certainty that he’ll stay in New York. So, what would it take for the Yankees take advantage of their short window of opportunity before Sabathia hits the open market?

The Yankees are believed to be OK with a five- or six-year deal for an obvious raise over his current $23 million a year. Yet seven or eight years is something they want to avoid because of age, workload, and Sabathia gaining weight across the second half of last season.

Joe Pawlikowski of the indispensable Yankees blog River Avenue Blues delves a bit deeper into the speculation, suggesting that the Yankees will put together an offer that will make Sabathia the highest paid pitcher (annual value) in baseball.

Six years at $24 million per season totals $144 million, which exceeds the offer the Yankees made for Cliff Lee last offseason. That’s fair, given how much Sabathia has contributed to the Yankees in the last three years. They can even bump that up to $145 million, thereby exceeding Lee’s record $24 million annual salary. A five-year deal would certainly have to come in at around $125 million, and would include at least one option.

While both suggestions seem reasonable, we couldn’t bring you a report on the Yankees without at least a little bit of the unreasonable. This, from a commenter at RAB:

If Sabathia declines the deal and opts out anyway then I would rescind this offer and publicly announce that we are not going to re-sign him. That will drive down his price and he probably won’t get more than what we offered.

It appears as though someone has been taking courses at the Jim Bowden School Of General Managment.

Even with the Yankees completely shooting themselves in the foot and deciding to “drive down his price,” it’s difficult to imagine the baseball season beginning in 2012 with Sabathia not making more money in a single season than any pitcher ever has before.

Comments (40)

  1. Sabathia is a beast.. but he’s already 31. There are some pitchers that can make it to their late 30s and still have the goods.. but we are talking about a guy who’s “listed” weight is just shy of 300 (which means he’s probably pushing 350)…

    If Prince Fielder is a gamble, wouldn’t this qualify as a huge risk for the Yankees? Obviously anyone would love to have him for the next 3 or 4 seasons… but after that I’m very skeptical of paying this guy $25M a season.

  2. To Baseball Reference’s Play Index we go. My initial hypothesis is that big bodied pitchers last better than big bodied batters, but as we found with Fielder, there isn’t anyone like him in all of baseball, ever. It’s also hard to properly judge because so many of the player weights on Baseball Reference go unchanged from the player’s first year in the league.

  3. Pitchers, especially AL pitchers, do not need to be in as good of shape as a fielders do so I don’t think that the Yanks will have a problem with his body as much as whoever signs Fielder will.

  4. Sorry Parkes didn’t see your post before I posted mine. I can think of quite a few big bodied pitchers who have done quite well even though they are over weight. I don’t think it is that much of a hindrance unless it starts to harm their hips or lower back which too much weight can do. Since pitchers draw most of there strength from that area it could be a problem but wouldn’t be with there arm’s as much.

  5. For entertainment purposes only, Jose Contrares has the highest WAR after age 31 of any pitcher LISTED over 250 lbs with a mere 13.9.

  6. Am I missing the problem with the RAB comment? It seems reasonable to me that if Sabathia turns down an offer of the highest annual salary for a pitcher in baseball that the Yankees should tell him to fuck off and make sure they aren’t used by Sabathia’s agent as leverage to secure CC a larger deal elsewhere.

    • Do you really think it is that simple?

      • Again, this must be going way over my head, so can you please explain it?

        • This is simple in the sense that Sabathia knows he is going to be a Yankee because he knows they can’t afford to lose him and the Yankees know he is going to be a Yankee because they know that he knows they can’t afford to lose him.

          This all comes down to increasing his annual salary which the Yankees knew was going to happen when they wrote up this deal with this opt out clause. They took the risk when they originally signed him that if he had a good few years that he was going to opt out and want a pay increase ala A-Rod. What I am guessing they didn’t figure is that they would be so short of pitching that there was no option but to sign Sabathia. We might see a little bit of bitching and hardball on the part of both sides but this deal gets done and Sabathia becomes the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

        • They would be helping the competition out by driving down Sabathia’s price. Why wouldn’t they want to be used as leverage to up his price for a competitor?

          • Exactly. Last I checked team’s want to see other teams spend as much money as possible on players in order to limit there budget for other players. I know this goes contrary to the idea of keeping salaries in check but without a salary cap who gives a shit.

            They would want to be used as leverage if they really believe they can’t sign him but I don’t see anyone else swooping in and paying much more than the Yankees are going to offer with the same opportunity of pitching in NY and not for some shit team like the Nationals.

          • 1. I think you are grossly overestimating the value to the Yankees of the Rangers, for example, having to pay Sabathia 2m more per year because they think they are trumping the Yankees’ offer. I think Hal cares way more about his own emotions (and would be pissed that CC is turning down the highest annual salary ever for a pitcher).

            2. You are ignoring the fact that driving up prices for competitors hurts the Yankees more than anyone in the long run. Remember why you didn’t think the Jays should just hand Beede the 3.5m he wanted? Future negotiations. If Sabathia turns down 24m a year from the Yankees, opts out, and the Yankees stay quiet, it’s conceivable Sabathia’s agent gets an even higher average annual salary. That won’t help the Yankees one bit when they are targeting Cain, Greinke, Hamels, etc. next winter.

        • “Here is our offer.”

          “No.”

          “Fine. Go fuck yourself.”

          You think that is how a negotiation works, really?

          • Why so fucking catty all the time!? Not everyone knows as much about baseball as you. He’s trying to learn. Get the fuck over it, dickface!

            • Who’s catty? Also, NYJ is a well-informed commenter and Jays fan, a guy whom I’ve discussed baseball with for years here and other blogs the world over.

              I don’t think he’s trying to learn nor do I think he’s out to lunch. I simply think he’s oversimplifying right now.

          • If you are referring to me then no I don’t think negotiations go like that at all. However I do think most fans do believe that.

            What I am saying is that there will be some haggling and Sabathia may even discuss other offers but they will only be a point of reference to show the Yankees that there is a strong market for him.

            Sabathia stays a Yankee. They just need to figure out the price and this is a done deal. To get that price there might be a bit of hardball between them but I don’t think you will see it get as bad as the A-Rod negotiations.

          • Drew hasn’t slept in … Drew when was your kid born? since then. He is allowed to be a bit testy or catty or whatever. We are lucky we are getting coherent posts from him at all. =)

          • We are discussing the scenario where the negotiations are over from the Yankees perspective. The 6/145m is the endpoint, not the launching pad.

            You think your responses are a good way to engage with your commenters in a discussion? Really?!

          • Kind of like how I never simplified negotiations.

        • Grossly overestimating is a gross exaggeration of a single joke line from a post.

          That’s a good point about raising the overall market on starting pitching, one I hadn’t considered, but I’d argue that specific situation dictates market prices more than agents wanting to use precedent to get better salaries for their clients. I’d also argue that $10 – $12 million in extra spending by a rival could be the difference between a bat or a reliever at the deadline each year for a team that’s maxed out their budget.

      • I think it makes him feel like a man in ways politely disagreeing just can’t achieve.

        • @GFY – is this your first time reading this site? Honest question.

          • About my 700th. Honest answer.

          • Is that some sort of a trick question? Of course.

          • The first step is admitting you have a problem.

          • @GFY Pot meet Kettle.

            Of the Getting Blanked crew (and even the baseball blogosphere in general), Drew always seems to me, to be incredibly gracious whenever someone disagrees with him – whether it’s Parkes on a live stream or a commenter on the blog.

            In fact, Drew is able to do something most people on the internet (writers or commenters) can’t do – that is, resist having to have the last word – this has been no exception.

            If you think Drew is a jerk, then maybe you should try getting into it with KLaw or his buddy Eric Karabell @ ESPN and see how things go.

  7. The two pitchers that come to mind for me as comparable weight wise are David Wells and Bartolo Colon. Colon went into the crapper after a very good season at age 31, and Wells pitched effectively into his 40′s, although as a much different type of pitcher than he was as young flamethrower.

  8. Sorry, Colon’s last good year (unless you count last season) was at the age of 32, not sure why I typed 31?

  9. Oh, and Baseball Reference has Wells’ weight listed as 187 lbs.

    BWAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!!

  10. 187 lbs.? More like, the guy ate 187 hot dogs for breakfast one time! Or, there’s a 187% chance he dies of a heart attack before he turns 55, knawmsayin’?

    (The man is obese.)

  11. Fair enough, I grossly overused the word grossly, but I definitely think precedence is the #1 factor in MLB free agency, as we know it to be in arbitration. I don’t see the benefit of potentially making one contender spend 1-2m “extra” on Sabathia outweighing the fact that the Yankees will be inflating their own future negotiations with elite FAs by allowing CC to use them as a pawn.

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