November 17, 2008
The New York Yankees may have an unseen ally in their bid to sign CC Sabathia: pressure from the marketplace according to the New York Daily News. Does biggest name on the free agent market have to take the highest bid this winter — the Yanks have already made a record six-year, $140 million offer and negotiating hasn't even begun — in order to set the bar high for the free-agent pitching market?
Whether it is reality or not, some in the baseball industry believe Sabathia has a responsibility to other players and the Players Association to accept the biggest offer, which perhaps would lead to bigger contracts for other top free-agent pitchers. If he accepts a lower deal to stay in Milwaukee or go to the West Coast, where he's from, he might fix the pitching market at a lower price.
Clearly, a major part of the Yankees' strategy in their pursuit of the 28-year-old Sabathia is to blow away any possible competition. Their initial offer was one year longer and $40 million more than what the Brewers, whom Sabathia helped into the playoffs last season, reportedly dangled. In a depressed economy, the Yanks are hoping their lavish first strike will scare away other possible Sabathia suitors. Could anyone leave $40 million on the table, if that's what it came to? Wouldn't a player wonder how that might affect his colleagues, let alone himself?
And who knows how the market will shake out? The Angels and Dodgers are perceived to be the Yankees' primary competition for Sabathia, but Mark Teixeira seems to be the Angels' priority and the Dodgers may prefer to re-sign Manny Ramirez. If they both sign their top priorities, can either afford Sabathia, too? The San Francisco Giants - Sabathia was born in nearby Vallejo - have contacted his agents, according to news reports, but can they afford a nine-figure deal for Sabathia while much of Barry Zito's $126 million contract is still on their books?