If you want to know exactly what the New York Yankees are thinking in their contract negotiations with CC Sabathia, just read the New York Post.
The Post brilliantly spun the contract negotiations with Captain Derek Jeter in favor of the Yankees last offseason. It has now gotten a head start in doing the same thing for the Yankees against Sabathia. In a column called CC Negotiations Could Push Limits, Joel Sherman asserts that AJ Burnett has a better chance of being in the Yankees 2012 starting rotation than CC Sabathia. That represents the Yankees’ first warning shot to Sabathia in what could become a very contentious negotiation.
Sabathia has a lot more leverage than Jeter, who was extremely vocal about his desire never to play for a team besides the Yankees, so I don’t think the Yankees scare tactics are going to work on the big guy. Sherman outlines the Yankees’ legitimate concerns about Sabathia’s weight gain and being burned by the Alex Rodriguez opt-out and subsequent contract that will weigh on the Yankees’ payroll for another six years. But Sherman minimizes one critical fact: that the Yankees desperately need Sabathia to lead their rotation or they will risk starting the 2012 baseball season without at least one dependable starter. The Yankees, partly through their arrogance, have conditioned their fan base to expect nothing short of World Series championships and a failure to re-sign CC will be seen as a retreat from that goal.
I never expected the Jeter negotiations to get so hostile, but that was because I was counting on both sides to recognize how valuable they are to each other and maintain a level of decorum through the talks. Jeter more than held his end of the bargain, but the Yankees did not. I fear that the Yankees are headed down the same path with Sabathia, with the eager help of the New York Post.