CC Sabathia could become a free agent and opt out of his contract with the New York Yankees at the end of the 2011 season. CC Sabathia back on the free agent market would make a lot of other franchises pretty happy, but the question has to be asked about why Sabathia would want to leave his current situation with the Yankees.
ESPN reported that Sabathia has left the door open about possibly leaving the team, giving the sports network exactly what they wanted with his recent comments. Apparently Sabathia stated that, “I have no idea [if I will opt out.] It is still in my contract. Anything is possible.” This doesn’t necessarily mean Sabathia wants to leave the Yankees, but merely he wants to keep the control in his hands for the future of this contract.
This is a contract clause that Sabathia wanted in his deal when he first signed with the New York Yankees, allowing him to leave the team if he decided it wasn’t a comfortable situation. At the time, the Yankees were the highest paid team in baseball, but they hadn’t won a title in a number of years. Now Sabathia has a nice World Series ring from 2009 with the Yankees, and that could go a long way toward convincing him he needs to stay with the team.
Sabathia is still really young for a starting pitcher at just 30, and that could guarantee he gets another long-term deal on the free agent market. Cliff Lee just got a nice contract of $120 million for five years, showing that Sabathia could certainly command even more money than his current contract if he decided to opt out of this deal. The Yankees certainly will do anything they can to keep Sabathia on the staff, especially with how depleted it has started to look. The Yankees really wanted Lee to go along with Sabathia, but were re-buffed when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Right now Sabathia is mid-way through a $161 million, seven-year contract, so it’s not like he is hurting for money. What the Yankees must do is convince him that this is where he needs to stay, and they need to make his experience as pleasant as possible. It’s not always that easy, though, especially when it comes down to things like friendship or family. If Sabathia wants to play in a specific city, that team will make it happen, which is why the Yankees have to be careful here.
Last year, Sabathia went 21-7 for the Yankees with a 3.18 ERA and 197 strike outs. He is still one of the best pitchers in baseball, even at a salary of just over $24 million. Now he has apparently lost weight during this past offseason, and that could keep him fitter as he tries to lead the Yankees back to the World Series. If the Yankees want hopes of doing it in 2012 and 2013 as well, they need to really keep Sabathia happy enough to not opt out.