(Long Island, NY) One of the first things that CC Sabathia told the media on Thursday was that he got a “chill” when he said that he was a member of the New York Yankees and put on their hat. He also was sporting a pinstriped jersey with the number 52 on the back, which no doubt must have been at least what the size tag stated and still not baggy enough to hide his 311-pound girth.
For a free agent that did everything possible to find another taker closer to his northern California home, it would seem a bit of a farce that Sabathia would resort to the Yankee mystique as an attraction to inking a seven-year, $161 million contract.
“As far as having a chance to win every year, and that’s something that I talk about all the time, if you ask anybody, that’s the bottom line for me,” he said. “There really was no other place to go.”
The key to that entire statement is the last part. Was Sabathia referring to the Yankees being perceived as ‘winners’ and playing for them will guarantee some semblance of success, or that there were no other offers out there even close to the one he accepted?
The Milwaukee Brewers – who Sabathia went 11-2 with after being acquired from Cleveland – put forth a five-year, $100 million offer to the 28-year-old lefthander. Besides that and the Yankees’ original $146 million over six years, there were no other bidders out there for his services. Sabathia was blatant about preferring the west coast teams, but besides a rumored low-baller from the Giants (obviously hoping for a hometown discount and a bit gun shy after getting burned on Barry Zito), it was the Yankees bidding against themselves.
The Bombers’ new ace spoke about going house hunting with his wife. Wherever he ends up residing, it may be a short stay. One of the final ingredients in the negotiations was the inclusion of a player opt-out clause after three years. Makes one think of how genuine his “chill” was or if he only felt one because of President-elect Barrack Obama’s plan on blasting the rich with heavy taxes.
If Sabathia does decide to pack his solid gold luggage in 2011 and head west, he will have pocketed $69 million of Hal Steinbrenner’s money and – the rest remains unanswered. Delivering what is the only goal of the organization – World Series title number 27 – determines if signing the overweight southpaw was worth it or not.
For a team like the Yankees, spending another $82.5 million on a second free agent hurler is merely a luxury. A.J. Burnett was also introduced at the press conference and brings with him a history of injury problems to 161st street. Timing is everything, and the righthander remained healthy in 2008 while going 18-10 for Toronto, giving him enough reason to opt out of a contract paying him $11 million a year. Now he has five years to prove that it was the right move.
“We’re all family now,” Burnett said at the press conference.
A very wealthy one at that.