Let's say that the New York Yankees' extension offer to CC Sabathia had been for two years at his current salary, $23 million a year. That would take Sabathia's deal to six years and about $138 million. In that case, there almost certainly wouldn't have been any deliberation, no reason to pause. Sabathia presumably would have taken his big left hand and signed what would have been the greatest offer of guaranteed dollars for any pitcher since ... well, since Sabathia signed his seven-year, $161 million deal after the 2008 season.
But if the Yankees' offer was for only one additional year, on top of the four years and $92 million that is already owed, that takes him into a gray area -- which is where he seems to be today, in deciding whether to take what the Yankees are dangling or whether to opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market again. The guess here is that the Yankees have offered Sabathia a one-year extension.
By offering to tack one more year onto Sabathia's contract, the Yankees would be committed to him for five years, $115 million. That would be reason for the pitcher to sit at the kitchen table with a legal pad and draw two columns -- pro and con -- and mull over the situation with his wife, Amber.
The pros of signing with the Yankees:
1. Salary: It's very possible that the Yankees' salary of $23 million a year will be the highest that Sabathia is offered this fall. Even if other teams jumped into the conversation -- the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, whoever -- it remains to be seen whether they would match that salary, which is the second-highest in history for any pitcher on a multiyear deal (Cliff Lee, at $24 million a year, ranks No. 1).
2. Happiness: Sabathia really likes playing in New York, far more than he expected he would. Amber likes living in New York. Their family is settled and comfortable.
3. Winning: Sabathia loves to compete and loves the chance to play in the postseason. The Yankees have been a part of the postseason in all but one of the last 17 seasons.
4. Legacy: Barring a significant injury, Sabathia has a real shot at 300 career victories, needing 124 more. He's 31 years old, and again, because the Yankees have contended year after year, there probably would be no place where he has a better chance to win than he has with the Yankees. And if Sabathia were to stay with the Yankees, he could become one of the few pitchers to have his number retired; he's been that good in New York so far.
The cons -- all the reasons Sabathia might want to leave the Yankees:
1. Money: Other teams may well offer him more money -- the Texas Rangers could join the aforementioned group of possible suitors -- over the course of the contract. It's hard to imagine anyone taking a serious run at Sabathia without understanding they would need to crush the Yankees' offer.
2. Competitive anger: In the first three years Sabathia has pitched for the Yankees, he has lived up to every nickel of his deal, going 59-20, pitching about 700 innings, dealing perfectly with the pressure of playing in New York and becoming a strong clubhouse presence. Yet now the Yankees have determined to offer him less than he has asked for, seemingly a one-year extension. This is a sign for Sabathia that it's business, not personal, and if that bothers him, maybe it's time to move on.
3. Relieve stress: If he walks away from the Yankees, Sabathia can escape baseball's meat-grinder division, the AL East, where almost all the teams have strong lineups. Lee and others have switched to the NL and thrived, and Sabathia could, too.
4. Go to the weaker league: If Sabathia goes to the National League, he could hit, something he loves to do. And he would get to take advantage of the weaker lineups, as Roy Halladay, Lee, Roger Clemens and others have done in the past.
Something that Sabathia may have learned about himself, after having a good time playing for the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers and, more recently, the Yankees: He is the type of person who will thrive no matter where he goes. No matter what he decides today, it'll work out for him. He can't make a bad decision.
The St. Louis Cardinals took a bow, as Bernie Miklasz writes. Albert Pujols is a free agent for the first time, officially. Within the same Derrick Goold story, there is word that the Cardinals will pick up the $7 million option on catcher Yadier Molina, as expected.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Pete Mackanin is the leadoff hitter in Boston's search for its next manager, as Peter Abraham writes.
4. The Cardinals must find a way to keep Pujols, writes Joel Sherman.
And today will be better than yesterday.