When CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees for this season, he got a signing bonus of $9 million. And, he was paid $14 million in salary for 2009. So, basically, the big lefty got $23 million for pitching in Yankeeland this year. Now, from 2010 through 2015, Sabathia’s contract calls for him to paid $23 million a year. Yes, it’s safe to say that CC is the Yankees $23 million dollar man.
But, Sabathia also has a clause in his contract that allows him to “opt out” and become a free agent after the 2011 season – much like Alex Rodriguez had an “opt out” after his 2007 MVP season.
Will CC hit the free agent market like A-Rod did – two years from now? That’s an interesting question. As, how many other teams will be able to match or better a contract that’s supposed to pay $23 million a year for (then) four years?
Perhaps a lot of it depends on what pitchers like Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, and Roy Halladay are making, per season, come 2010 and/or 2011? Will any of them be making $23 million a season by that time? Well, if teams have paid (no pun intended) attention to the recent contracts given to Johan Santana, Barry Zito, Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown and Carlos Zambrano…I doubt it.
So, if Sabathia leaves after 2011, it will because he wants out of New York (for some reason) or because he wants more years (beyond 2015). That said, maybe the Yankees should strike now, while the glow of the World Series ring is still hot, and offer to “buy out” the “opt out” and take-away what could be a distraction in 2011? Say, offer CC something like $16 million to be paid out over the next 8 years if he waives his opt out clause now? Or, then again, maybe the Yankees just figure the market, come 2011, will work in their favor and Sabathia will have no where to go? (Like that really worked when A-Rod opted out, huh?)
In any event, the countdown to CC’s opt out clause is at two years and counting…tick, tick, tick...