We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.
Today: CC Sabathia. Specifically, is signing CC Sabathia to a big money deal good for your team?
Firstly, what are you getting for your $125+ million dollars? A former Cy Young winner coming off a career season. Abetted by a switch to the National League, Sabathia went crazy during his contract year, setting career highs for Ks, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. He's 28 years old, tall, fat (which apparently bodes well for his career longevity) and motivated. A true power pitcher that has only made fewer than 30 starts once during his 8 year career.
Despite what his Baseball Reference career similar players list says, CC Sabathia is a stud. Alex Fernandez? Jack McDowell? BARRY ZITO? Sabathia's much higher K rate and improved control mean he isn't the type of pitcher who's numbers will diminish rapidly. Most power pitchers hit the wall at 32, which is still 3.5 years away for CC, so teams won't be shy to sign him to a 6 or 7 year deal.
When signing a player to a deal of this magnitude, GMs and empty suits alike must join together and break it down. Firstly, they ask themselves "Are we the New York Yankees?" If they find that they are not, they move to the next question. Is our operation based in the state of California? If they answer no to this question too, there is really only one real question remaining: "Who are we kidding?"
There are very few non-Yankee, non-Golden Seal teams with enough cash-in-hand to make a deal this size. The Brewers have made an initial offer, but as Rob pointed out, they are more than one player away. Were they to sign CC, the rotation moves to Yovanni Gallardo and then falls off a cliff. The Brewers 2008 payroll was just over $80 million dollars, even with a bump to $100 million, they can't justify giving 25% to one player. Especially since he doesn't want to play there and their offer was for optics only. You do not want this Brewers fans, you would just have to trade him for kids in two years anyway.
CC Sabathia is from the great state of California, and he appears keen to return there. One GM surveyed by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick believes the Dodgers can afford to sign CC because of their cheap young players at many positions. Their young squad could grow around the big ace, assuming they don't retain a very, very expensive position player. Is CC in the Dodgers best interests? With two rotation spots set to open up, they have the need. Sabathia would love the chance to stay in LA, where he could hit Roscoe's whenever he felt like it and the occasional in-game tater tot. You very much want this Dodgers fans, too bad they won't be able to compete with a team bidding against itself.
The New York Yankees are the only team that can think to itself: "We are indeed the Yankees. Let us put down our chalices of virgin's blood, reach deep down into the void where our soul should be, pull out $300 million dollars and make a deal!" The Yankees' new ballpark coupled with the owners madness from a baseball-free October mean the Yanks deep pockets will only deepen.
Ah yes, the new ballpark. The new version of Yankee Stadium that features the identical dimensions to the old Yankee Stadium. The historic building that was long a boon for pitchers, who like CC, throw with their left hands in defiance of God's will. So ownership willing to do whatever it takes; plus ideal fit between player's skill set and team's needs; plus a bottomless pit of cash. That adds up to an odds-on favorite. You feel very much entitled to this Yankees fans.
For CC Sabathia to sign anywhere but New York, he will be leaving substantial money on the table. It is really that simple. Should he choose to play in LA or Anaheim of Los Angeles or Milwaukee, it will be a wholly personal decision. The kind of decision players in their prime earning years rarely make.