Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Deveney: Can Tribe Keep Sabathia?

Sean Deveney of The Sporting News offers his insights on the future of CC Sabathia, ultimately concluding the Indians lack the financial dedication to keep him.

According to the article, Cleveland's 2007 payroll was approximately $62 million, which ranked 23rd in Major League Baseball. Their payroll was largely held down due to bargain deals made for (then) budding stars Victor Martinez [5 years, $15 million] and Grady Sizemore [6 years, $23.5 million].

However, these rising stars will soon reach free agency and require the big bucks which goes along with it. Travis Hafner, for example, received a four year extension worth $57 million last year. Sabathia will likely require a contract that doubles Hafner's deal, leaving several baseball experts skeptical that Cleveland can keep the 2007 AL Cy Young winner.

From the article:
I asked an NL executive to take a stab at how much Sabathia, who has had some waistline issues in his career, would get on the open market. "He seems to have put all the questions about his body and conditioning behind him," he said. "Still, I don't think anyone would go beyond five years. Maybe he could get to six with incentives. If it stretches to six years, you'd have to think $130 million."

There's no way to know what the Indians' price range on Sabathia is. But we can guess it is lower than $130 million. The hope is that Sabathia will take a lesser deal to stay put, which is what Carlos Zambrano (five years, $91 million) did last season with the Cubs. But even if Sabathia is willing to give the hometown discount (five years, $100 million?), that discount still might not be enough for Cleveland. If you get a half-price bargain on a Lamborghini, you still need to come up with $160,000.

The metaphor of a Lamborghini's cost is an exceptional one. And even with a hometown discount, there is little reason to believe Sabathia would accept a contract which does not top $100 million. Most likely, Sabathia will require a deal which comes closer to $125 million.

Considering the $62 million payroll from last season, Deveney goes on to theorize the impact a Sabathia megadeal would have on future payrolls:
The Indians' payroll figures to jump to north of $80 million this year. That's with Sabathia at $11 million. It just doesn't seem likely that the Indians can afford to jump to nearly twice that number. The team is not expected to pursue trades for Sabathia -- not yet, at least -- but if the Indians can't find a solution in the next week or so, then this problem will continue to loom.
A well-written piece with very valid points. I don't believe the Indians have any intention of trading Sabathia, realizing their current roster has a great chance at repeating as AL Central champs in 2008. Removing Sabathia from their rotation would erase that possibility, especially if top pitching prospect Adam Miller takes another step backward following an injury ridden 2007.

That said, many Yankees scouts, fans and front office people will wince at the idea of paying a 300 lbs pitcher $100+ million. Should the young starting trio of Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy even come close to living up to some outlandish expectations, the need for CC will not be so needy.

1 comment:

illville said...

i say sign sabathia after the season. if cleveland tries to trade him, give them the same package of secondary prospects that the mets did. i think hes shown his weight isnt a factor working against him