C.C. Sabathia Rumors
It has been a busy week in the Big Apple with the Yankees losing Robinson Cano to the Mariners and coming to terms with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Hiroki Kuroda. The Mets meanwhile were able to sign Curtis Granderson away from the Pinstripes. Here's the latest on the New York teams:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, he's not done making moves. "I've got work to do," Cashman said. "I need a starter, bullpen, second base. We’ve still got work." Cashman also addressed a report Cano had reservations about playing for manager Joe Girardi. "I'm not aware of that. You'd have to ask Robbie, I guess. It's never been an issue that I'm aware of."
- The Mets are one of seven or eight teams who have inquired about Johan Santana, sources tell The Star-Ledger's Jorge Castillo. Michael Baron of Metsblog.com doubts any team will offer Santana more than a minor league deal because of his shoulder issues. The Mets opted for a $5.5MM buyout of Santana's $25MM club option in November making the 34-year-old left-hander a free agent.
- The Yankees have checked on free agent right-hander Mike Pelfrey, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Yankees are interested in a reunion with Raul Ibanez but he isn't a top priority for them, tweets the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Ibanez, despite being 41, is being courted by teams in both leagues including the Rockies, Braves, Mariners, and Rangers, Sherman tweets.
- The focus of both the Yankees and Mets will be on the trade market rather than free agents during the Winter Meetings, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Martino adds, in a separate tweet, the Mets were never in on Scott Feldman and don't seem to be in play for mid-rotation help.
- CC Sabathia was surprised by Cano's decision because he did not expect the Yankees to allow Cano to leave, and he did not expect Cano to actually go, reports Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. "Just a player like that, putting on the pinstripes, and being able to play your whole career in New York means something – to me, obviously," Sabathia said. "It didn't mean that much to him. It's a difficult choice being a free agent. And he made a tough choice. I know he's happy with his decision, and his family's happy. So that's good."
There was talk earlier this year of the Yankees giving Phil Hughes a qualifying offer at the end of the season in order to either retain him or secure a draft pick in the event that he signed elsewhere. However, that ship has pretty much sailed at this point. "They may make a qualifying offer. And I may run for president," a rival GM told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com last week. Here's more out of the Bronx..
- Many in baseball speculated that Derek Jeter would decline his $9.5MM option for 2014 and force the Yankees to give him a new deal, but a friend of the shortstop told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he thinks he'll exercise the option and return with a sense of purpose. Feinsand notes that Jeter probably wouldn't have the public on his side as he did three years ago and, more importantly, no one is clamoring to give a 39-year-old shortstop more than $9.5MM.
- The Yankees want Robinson Cano back in pinstripes next season, but team president Randy Levine made it clear there's a limit as to how far they'll go. “[Cano] is a great player,” Levine told Bloomberg Television, according to Feinsand. “We will sit down and talk to him. Hopefully he’s a Yankee. Nobody is a re-sign at all costs, but we want him back and we feel good about negotiating something with him. But nobody is a re-sign at any cost.”
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees can ill-afford to see CC Sabathia's regression to No. 4 starter come when he has at least three years and $76MM on his contract. The Yankees anticipated such an occurence might happen toward the end of his New York tenure but thought they'd have capable replacements in Michael Pineda, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, but none have panned out. Their dearth of pitching talent clouds their goal of staying under the $189MM luxury tax threshhold, Sherman adds.
C.C. Sabathia's deal with the Yankees could turn out to be an ugly one, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes. "That contract might not be a disaster of A-Rod-ian proportions, but unless Sabathia finds a way to turn it all round, it might turn out to be the next-worst thing," Matthews writes. Sabathia has three years left on his contract, plus a vesting option for 2017 that the Yankees can avoid only if Sabathia has a left shoulder injury. All told, the Yankees are likely to be on the hook for $96MM after this season. Sabathia's season arguably isn't as bad as his 4.81 ERA makes it look -- his peripherals are indicative of ERA about a run lower. But his declining velocity is a serious concern. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Red Sox's huge trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers one year ago gave them the payroll flexibility to acquire Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Koji Uehara, and Jonny Gomes, Scott Miller of CBS Sports writes. But that doesn't mean the Dodgers are unhappy with their end of the deal -- Miller notes that it "changed the path of both franchises." Miller also quotes Dodgers manager Don Mattingly noting that his team likely would have pursued Victorino (for whom they had traded in July 2012) as a free agent if they hadn't acquired Crawford.
- The trade also gave the Sox the flexibility to acquire Jake Peavy, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes. Peavy's matchup against Chris Capuano on Sunday reminds MacPherson that the Red Sox made a "desperate attempt" to acquire Capuano from the Mets in 2011. The talent gap between Peavy and Capuano is significant, and MacPherson argues that the trade with the Dodgers made the difference in acquiring Peavy this time.
- There will be interest in Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez this offseason if the Indians want to trade them, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Cabrera has struggled this season, hitting .237/.292/.389, and he's set to make $10MM in the last year of his contract in 2014. Perez, meanwhile, is set to earn a raise in arbitration on his $7.3MM 2013 salary before becoming a free agent after 2014. His pitching hasn't been stellar in 2013 -- he has a 3.30 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. Hoynes may be right that the Indians could deal Perez if they wanted to. For example, the Red Sox's offseason trade for Joel Hanrahan, a pitcher with a similar salary and contract situation, perhaps shows that teams are always willing to deal for an established closer. But that deal also demonstrates just how volatile closers can be, and Perez has never been dominant in the way Hanrahan once was.
- As the August trade deadline approaches, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that his team is unlikely to make a trade, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch tweets. That makes it unlikely that the Cards will wind up with Dan Haren of the Nationals. The Cardinals recently lost Jake Westbrook to injury and have replaced him in the rotation with Tyler Lyons, at least for now.
The Dodgers called the Yankees to inquire about the possibility of trading for C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Yankees told the Dodgers they had no interest in moving either player despite their substantial contracts (four years and $99MM remain on Sabathia’s deal; four years and $90MM remain on Teixeira’s deal).
Los Angeles recently acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from Boston by agreeing to take on $260MM in future salaries. Dodgers officials weren’t inspired by the upcoming free agent class, so they explained to rival teams that they’re willing to take on substantial contracts. This gave the Dodgers the leverage to complete many deals -- few clubs could add substantial payroll midseason.
There are no signs the Dodgers were interested in Alex Rodriguez, Sherman writes. Some executives question Rodriguez’s ability to play third base every day at this stage in his career, and he might be best-suited for the American League. Furthermore. the Dodgers view Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon as solutions on the left side of the infield.
The Yankees would love to move Rodriguez for payroll reasons, according to Sherman. Yankees executives aim to avoid the $189MM luxury tax threshold for 2014, and Rodriguez’s contract limits their flexibility (five years and $114MM remain on Rodriguez's deal). However, Rodriguez has a no-trade provision, as do Sabathia and Teixeira.
Every year a few players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different -- eight players signed nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. As the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM contracts:
- Albert Pujols, ten-year, $240MM contract - Pujols had a painfully slow start, but he has raised his batting line to a respectable .270/.332/.461. His last 40 games have been legitimately Pujols-like: 11 home runs and an OPS over 1.000.
- Joey Votto, ten-year, $225MM extension - It's impossible to have a complete discussion about baseball's best hitters without considering Votto. The 28-year-old leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, doubles and wOBA, so this deal couldn't be going any better for the Reds.
- Prince Fielder, nine-year, $214MM contract - Fielder continues to hit at an All-Star level, though he has a relatively modest total of 12 home runs. Unfortunately for Tigers fans Mike Ilitch's bold investment hasn't been enough to keep the team above .500.
- Matt Kemp, eight-year, $160MM extension - Hamstring issues have sidelined Kemp, who was the best hitter in the National League for the first month of the season.
- C.C. Sabathia, five-year, $122MM extension - Sabathia, now on the disabled list with a strained groin, is in the midst of yet another tremendous season. He has a 3.45 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 107 innings.
- Matt Cain, five-year, $112.5MM extension - Cain's enjoying his best season as a Major Leaguer. He has a career-best ERA (2.27), strikeout rate (9.0 K/9) and walk rate (1.9 BB/9) through 107 innings. The Giants' decision to invest in Cain still looks like a good one.
- Jose Reyes, six-year, $106MM extension - Reyes' offensive numbers have dropped off across the board this year, no thanks to a 60 point dip in batting average on balls in play.
- Ryan Zimmerman, six-year, $100MM extension - Zimmerman's off to a slow start at the plate despite two home runs in his past three games. He missed two weeks with shoulder soreness earlier in the year and has just a .235/.297/.350 batting line.
In the eyes of people like Derek Jeter, the season doesn't truly begin until the Yankees play their first home game. Here are some Yankees-related notes as the Bronx Bombers prepare to host their first game of the season...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that transitioning to the AL East can be a daunting task for starting pitchers, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman says Hiroki Kuroda can succeed in his new division. "Our scouts really liked Kuroda and feel he will be a contributing member to an AL rotation," he said.
- Scouts haven't been impressed with Alex Rodriguez's mechanics so far this season, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. However, scouts tell King that Jeter has actually gotten faster.
- C.C. Sabathia should recover from a somewhat disappointing start to the season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. But Sherman suggests Sabathia's been a different pitcher since last July. The Yankees signed the left-hander to a nine-figure extension soon after the 2011 season ended.
- In a piece at River Ave. Blues, Mike Axisa says it's too early to worry seriously about Sabathia and explains why he fully expects the Yankees to spend big on Robinson Cano next offseason. The 29-year-old Cano is an extension candidate.
- "I'd say it's fair to say C.J. Wilson is probably the best pitcher on the marketplace right now since CC Sabathia's been taken out and retained here," said Cashman. "I don’t think it's a stretch to tell anybody that he’s the most attractive candidate."
- Cashman cautioned that he's talking about Wilson in terms of talent and performance, not necessarily cost. "You have your priority list and how it looks," said Cashman. "But then it gets rearranged by cost analysis."
- "I think he would be on anybody's wish list," said Cashman when asked about Albert Pujols. "In our circumstances, our roster, he doesn't fit. It's not an efficient way to try to allocate your resources."
- Cashman said re-signing Sabathia "was not a layup," and admitted there were some nervous moments leading up to the deadline for his ace left-hander to opt-out. "That’s never a fun process, but the resolution we’re really happy with, and we know he is."
- When asked if he sees himself getting fired or retiring, Cashman joked "I would say that normally you get fired. I think it’s a healthy way to look at it. I think at some point, they usually tell you to go."
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington confirmed to reporters that the Red Sox and Cubs have obtained a one-week extension to work out compensation for former Boston GM Theo Epstein. Here are some more notes from the division, starting with the Red Sox...
- Peter Gammons of MLB Network said on WEEI's Mut & Merloni show that he won't be surprised if David Ortiz returns to the Red Sox this offseason.
- Though the Red Sox have considered moving Daniel Bard to the rotation, Gammons has heard it's not likely. Jerry Spar has the details at WEEI.com.
- The Red Sox are in talks with Ortiz and, to a lesser extent, with Jonathan Papelbon, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- It's highly unlikely that the Yankees will sign Roy Oswalt, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. The club's worried about Oswalt's injury history, according to Matthews. Oswalt had multiple stints on the DL with lower back issues in 2011.
- The Yankees are "open-minded" about the possibility of moving A.J. Burnett or anyone else without a full no-trade clause, according to Chad Jennings of the Journal News. However, the GM sees value in the innings Burnett has provided.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues expects Jesus Montero to open the 2012 season with the Yankees, but he wonders if New York could obtain Mat Latos, Jaime Garcia or Jordan Zimmermann for the catching prospect.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports takes a detailed look at C.C. Sabathia’s vesting option for 2017.
- For the latest on the Orioles’ GM search, click here.
It's been a busy day for the Yankees. They've announced their extension with GM Brian Cashman and declined their option on Andrew Brackman, making the right-hander a free agent. Reactions to C.C. Sabathia's extension have continued streaming in and we have some more notes to pass along from Cashman's conversation with reporters. Most of the quotes below come via Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger:
- By signing Sabathia, the Yankees added "the most important piece" of the offseason, Cashman said.
- "Offense is not a problem with this club," Cashman said. He's right - the Yankees scored more runs than any MLB team but the Red Sox and their starting lineup returns in 2012, so pursuing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols doesn't seem likely.
- The focus of the winter is "pitching, pitching, pitching," Cashman said.
- Cashman said the organization is better-positioned to evaluate Japanese players than it was a few years ago. The Yankees could express interest in Yu Darvish, the Japanese right-hander who may be posted this offseason.
- Jesus Montero's role with the Yankees has yet to be determined: he could DH, catch on a semi-regular basis or be a bat off of the bench. Cashman expects Montero to contribute in the Major Leagues.
- Cashman said picking up Nick Swisher's $10.25MM option was an easy decision.
- Agent Peter Greenberg says there’s mutual interest between the Yankees and free agent Freddy Garcia in working out a new deal, according to Mark Hale, George A. King III and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees would likely offer the Type B right-hander arbitration.
- I examined the Yankees' offseason last week.
Last night the Yankees completed a contract extension with ace C.C. Sabathia, adding one guaranteed year and an additional $30MM and preventing him from opting out and reaching the open market. The new total is $122MM over five guaranteed years, with the $24.4MM average annual value representing a record for a pitcher. If Sabathia avoids a shoulder injury in 2016, a 2017 option will vest and the total will become $147MM over six years.
As with Cliff Lee and the Phillies last year, it's hard to call a record-setting contract a discount. However, I believe Sabathia would have landed six guaranteed years in that same $147MM range, at minimum, on the open market. A seventh guaranteed year wouldn't have been out of the question. It's a huge contract, but Sabathia took significantly less guaranteed money to stay in New York. On to today's C.C.-related links...
- "It was an easy choice" to stay with the Yankees, Sabathia told reporters. Avoiding free agency was a big motivation for him.
- The Yankees can now "shop in comfort rather than desperation," writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman still expects the Yankees to bid for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, if the righty is posted. He also thinks the team will explore the trade market for another left-handed starter.
- Yesterday "wasn't a great day for Yankees fans," writes Ken Davidoff of Newsday, but "it could've been much worse."
- "The number of elite pitchers who excel throughout their 30s should make us accepting of the deal," writes Benjamin Kabak of River Ave. Blues.