The prevailing opinion is that Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia will opt out of the remaining four years and $92MM remaining on his contract, since he could easily get more money or years. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wonders if this will result in the Yankees making another Alex Rodriguez-like overpay, committing at least $125MM over five years in total.
On the high end, though, Sabathia could attempt to top the guarantee he received three years ago: $161MM over seven years. Since that offseason, Sabathia has added three 230+ inning seasons to his resume, never posting an ERA over 3.37 in a season. He's still only 31 years old. Last winter Cliff Lee was 32 upon signing a five-year, $120MM deal with the Phillies. At the time, we heard that Lee turned down offers guaranteeing $148MM over seven years from the Yankees and $138MM over six years (including heavy deferrals) from the Rangers.
There's more money in the game than there was three years ago, and Sabathia's resume is at least as strong as Lee's was. Sabathia won't be able to match the 2.13 postseason ERA Lee carried into that offseason, but with a 3.47 mark in ten Yankees postseason starts C.C. hasn't been bad. Sabathia's postseason work outside of '09 has been subpar, but I'm not sure that will affect the free agent bidding. I see Sabathia's ceiling as Lee's $24MM salary over another seven-year term, which would be a new record for a pitcher at $168MM. As with Lee, that seventh year will probably be a sticking point for all involved teams. Let's hear what you think about the total dollars in today's poll.