Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More Sabathia Implications

This will become a tiresome commentary, but Johan Santana's lucrative contract have ripple effects on the rest of the starting pitcher free agent crop, particularly fellow Cy Young lefthander CC Sabathia.

The AP published a story indicating how persuasive Santana's historic deal will become for Sabathia, his current general manager and the rest of baseball in general.

Some pieces from the article:
The mammoth [Santana] deal made headlines all around the country and rattled the Indians, who are attempting to sign C.C. Sabathia to a long-term contract. Now, they might have been priced out of any chance at doing so by the Mets' spending splurge.

The Indians recently offered an extension to Sabathia, the defending AL Cy Young Award winner who can become a free agent after the 2008 season. But that deal has now been dwarfed -- perhaps nearly doubled -- by Santana's record-setting package with New York.

"We recognize that the Santana deal is an added reference point in a contract discussion with C.C.," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Monday. "Every deal that deals with a pitcher of C.C.'s ilk is relevant. But in the end, the only thing that matters is how relevant C.C. and his agents feel it is."

The 27-year-old Sabathia has maintained he wants to stay in Cleveland, where he began his career, got married and began raising a family. "It's my second home," he said while back in town last month. And there's no doubt that the Indians want to keep Sabathia, who went 19-7 last season and became the club's first Cy Young winner in 35 years.

"The only question that remains is can we find a business deal that is deemed to be equitable and fair by both parties?" he said. "Any deal like that we could arrive at will cause both parties to reach and stretch beyond past their point of comfort. The question is, can we reach and stretch and arrive at a point we both feel good about? That remains to be seen."

While preparing their initial offer to Sabathia, the Indians analyzed recent deals signed by pitchers such as Jake Peavy (three years, $52 million), Roy Halladay (three years, $40 million), Chris Carpenter (five years, $63.5 million) and Carlos Zambrano (five years, $91.5 million) for comparison.

"Recognizing the market we're operating in, we have to be aware of risk and we have to be careful," Shapiro said. "There are people like C.C. who will push the boundaries of our risk tolerance. C.C., because of who he is as a person, as a teammate, as a man and what he can do on the mound, will push the boundaries of our risk tolerance.

"Frankly, he already has."

Shapiro would not confirm or deny a rumor that Sabathia rejected Cleveland's initial offer but did state the Indians would not shy away from a bidding war should the talented southpaw test free agency. Shapiro declared "We're not going away" and said the Indians "will be there in October and November" along with a host of interested suitors.

Shapiro does not seem resigned to the belief that the Indians cannot afford Sabathia, but many remain skeptical due to owner Larry Dolan's propensity for shying away from big ticket items once big market bullies throw their hat into the ring. Signing Sabathia to a megadeal which approaches Santana's extension - in the $110-125 million neighborhood - would be a huge departure for Dolan.

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