Monday, October 10, 2011

Let the CC Sabathia opt-out talk commence

Back in May, I begged for a moratorium on talk of CC Sabathia opting out of his contract with the New York Yankees. Now that the Yankees have been bounced from the playoffs far earlier than expected, the talk will commence and gather momentum.

Of course, the most immediate issue for the Yankees is re-signing Brian Cashman or finding a general manager to replace him. Someone is going to have to handle what could be a difficult negotiation with Sabathia.

CC has all the leverage in the world despite his struggles in the last two months of the 2011 baseball season and in the American League Division Series. He is the ace of an already-thin starting pitching staff (unless you really believe that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon can give the Yankees in 2012 what they gave them in 2011). None of the free-agent starters have anything close to CC’s track record and reputation as a horse.

But the general manager is going to have to figure out how much to push back on CC’s demands. I think the Yankees are well within their rights to add some type of weight clause to ensure Sabathia stays on track. Would the Yankees consider paying CC a lot more money per year instead of more guaranteed years? That’s probably the way I would go, but Sabathia and his agent will have something to say about that.

I wouldn’t blame CC if he used his leverage to squeeze every last nickel out of the Yankees, who have shown that they will use all their leverage to force a player to sign a deal to their liking, just as they did to their iconic shortstop Derek Jeter last offseason. I just hope that the negotiations don’t get as ugly with Sabathia as they did with Captain Jeter. But I wouldn’t rule out seeing a bunch of stories full of anonymous sources expressing concern about Sabathia’s health and highlighting his role in the Yankees’ too-quick playoff exit this year. That’s just the way the Yankees roll.

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