Monardo: Pay day for Sabathia (Nov. 2)
Joe Monardo | Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Carsten Charles Sabathia. It’s a big name, he’s a big man and now he’s got an even bigger contract than before.
With the opportunity to test free agency and opt out of the final four years of his deal with the Yankees, in which he was slated to earn $92 million, CC agreed to an extension that will add one year and $30 million to his preexisting agreement. Already 31 years old, Sabathia is now locked up through the 2016 season, by which time he will be $122 million richer.
The deal that originally put Sabathia in pinstripes in 2008 was worth $161 million over seven years, paying the hefty lefty an average of $23 million per season. His new deal factors out to an average of $24.4 million each year. If Sabathia tosses 240 innings per year, he would be earning $101,666 per inning. That is almost $34,000 earned for every out.
While the numbers of Sabathia’s deal seem to be more fitting as components of a GDP than as the salary of an individual, the agreement shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.
Sabathia has recorded 59 wins for the Yankees over the past three seasons and earned a 19-8 record in 2011. CC’s 3.00 ERA last season was the second lowest mark of his 11-year career. In 2011, the massive starter also accumulated his lowest totals for walks, runs, earned runs and home runs — and the highest strikeout total — of his three seasons in New York. All of this came in 237.1 innings pitched, his fifth straight year equaling at least 230 innings pitched in a season.
Befitting of his build and stature, the 6’7″ hurler has earned a reputation and made a living as a workhorse (not because he is as big as some horses) and innings-eater (not only because he looks to eat plenty). It is a good thing that Sabathia has this to hang his hat on, because although his statistics place him among the realm of elite pitchers, they certainly do not set him apart. CC finished in the top five in innings pitched and wins for the 2011 season, but drifted towards the outskirts of the top 20, or even beyond, in most other categories.
Despite the imperfections in the ace’s numbers, CC is of an immeasurable value to the Yankees. Well, then again, $122 million pretty much covers it. Behind their number one starter, the Bronx Bombers turn to unproven Ivan Nova and all-too-proven A.J. Burnett. Their lack of depth in the rotation undoubtedly contributed to the Yankees’ willingness to shell out big bucks to retain the lone bright spot of their starting staff.
The circumstances surrounding the extension set in place between Sabathia and the Yanks amounted to a perfect storm of sorts. A number of factors contributed to create the possibility, or even the necessity, of a monumental deal being reached between the two parties.
Understandably, Sabathia’s success throughout his career and in his years with the Yankees encouraged the team to do whatever it took to hold on to the largest man in baseball. Due to the lack of production from their starting arms numbered two through five, the Yankees needed to secure someone to headline their staff that rarely misses time due to injury. With no other pitcher on the market this offseason approaching Sabathia’s ability or resume, the Yankees had no other viable options than to chase their star. And most obviously, the Yankees are absolutely loaded. Few teams would be able to match the type of money offered by the team from New York and even fewer teams would be willing to tie up that much money in a single player.
But even with all the reasons that this deal makes sense, there are plenty of reasons it doesn’t. CC is seemingly past or, at best, at his prime. By 2016, when Sabathia will be in his upper 30s, it is highly doubtful that he will be worth anything near the $25 million he will be due. Especially for an athlete of Carsten’s size, maintaining a reasonable weight and staying in shape figure to be difficult tasks for one reaching the top of the proverbial “hill.” Already this year, Sabathia seems to have faded down the stretch, going 3-3 in the months of August and September before posting unsightly numbers in the postseason. CC allowed batters to hit .323 against him while he racked up a 2.08 WHIP and an ERA of 6.23 while the Yankees fell to the Tigers in the ALDS.
But ultimately, it’s business as usual for the Yanks, and Sabathia will now be held to even higher standards than before. 30 wins sounds reasonable, right?
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
Contact Joe Monardo at [email protected].