Should C.C. be back next year at any cost?
It is likely that:
 C.C. Sabathia will opt out of his contract this off-season.
 He will return to the pinstripes next year.
 C.C. will receive a massive contract of at the very minimum 5 years and $120MM.
However, at what point in the contract negotiations should the Yankees consider alternate options?
Joel Sherman of the NY Post says that if Sabathia wants a considerable amount past 5 years and over $120MM, the Yanks should at least look elsewhere.
If Sabathia wants more, the Yankees have to seriously consider another direction rather than accept greater long-term risk.
In my opinion, Sherman hits it right on the money here. C.C. is 31 years old, and somewhere around 290 pounds. Look at the facts: another 7 year contract would take him to the 2018 season, and Sabathia would turn 38 that season. No offense in any way to C.C., but the combination of being overweight with a history knee problems, and in his upper thirties does not bode well for the Yanks. However, the luxury of having a true ace should never be downplayed. C.C. is an absolute horse. He’s been one of the Yankees’ best free agent signings in the modern years.
|NYY (3 yrs)
But- there have been some signs of weariness in the second half of this season and in the playoffs. Are the 1,198 innings he’s thrown in the past five years catching up with him? That is a question the Yankees front office should deeply think about. I’m not saying I don’t want Sabathia back in the Bronx next year; a long-term contract is a risk of gigantic proportions. It’s like the A-Rod contract for a pitcher.
Sherman also discusses possible alternatives to signing Sabathia to a massive contract.
“With that pen and a powerful offense, could they survive if — for example — they lost Sabathia, but signed Wilson and traded for someone such as the A’s Gio Gonzalez or White Sox’ John Danks? “Can you win with five No. 3 starters and strength everywhere else,” the NL personnel man said. “Yes, I think you can. I think the Rangers are doing it right now.”
If you think about it, the Yankees could certainly survive without Sabathia in their rotation next year. That is, if the Yankees take advantage of the rest of the free agent and trade market. A cluster of simply solid-to-very good pitchers could potentially work. Let’s take a look at the options Sherman gives. We’ll profile Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, and other pitchers later, but for now… The Yankees could swing a deal for Gonzalez, as the Athletics are offensively deprived and already have plenty of strong, young pitching. They could rebuild without Gio in their rotation. The White Sox are in some strange sort of rebuilding mode, and Danks may become available. You also have to consider other trade options, such as Matt Cain of the Giants. Say you sign C.J. Wilson, trade for Gonzalez/Danks, and possibly sign an innings-eater like Edwin Jackson or Mark Buehrle. Then you fill in the holes with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and one of the young-guns like Adam Warren or Hector Noesi. As for Burnett, who knows. All of a sudden, you have a solid, playoff-caliber rotation, without a massive 7 year / $140+MM contract. Then you have a pretty good amount of flexibility.
However, the Yanks would not have a clear ace. As Sherman and his source say, the Rangers don’t have a clear #1, even in Wilson. They have a team built on a solid rotation, a tremendous offense, and an excellent bullpen. Look where they are: up 2-1 in the ALCS.
Ideally, C.C. Sabathia does not opt out of his contract, but we simply have to expect the worst. Any deal exceeding Cliff Lee’s 5 years/$120MM contract, should alert the Yankees to at least consider an alternate plan.