Without the snide jokes and the Moneyball references about fat players being the new sex symbols, CC Sabathia‘s weight is an issue that the Yankees have to consider—among others—if he opts out of his contract and wants what amounts to an extension.
Bill Madden wrote in his column that in the last 6-8 weeks of the season, Sabathia put on 35-40 pounds.
In two months!!!
It’s a problem.
And it’s something the Yankees have to address if Sabathia wants his contract basically extended so it’s a guaranteed $150 million.
In fact, I’d tell him straight out that he has to lose weight. Period. And I’d put it in the contract.
Much was made of Sabathia dropping significant poundage coming into this season to take pressure off his knees.
Sabathia’s a large man and he’s never going to be svelte, but there’s no excuse for him expanding like the reputation of The Most Interesting Man In The World.
(Sabathia needs to lay of the cerveza, by the way.)
What makes it all the more egregious is that he’s quite possibly going to be a free agent again. One would think at his age, 31, he’d be more conscientious about staying in some semblance of shape (for him). What was he doing on the extra day the Yankees gave him by using the 6-man rotation? Spending it making the rounds glad-handing in the all-you-can-eat section at Yankee Stadium? How is it possible to gain that much weight?
The Yankees have to think seriously and unemotionally about this before doling out a check to Sabathia. The entire team isn’t getting any younger; they have multiple holes in the starting rotation that they’re apparently not prepared to use Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos to fill at the beginning of 2012; and when they do bring them up, they’re certainly not going to let them pitch like normal human beings; they’ll be on strict pitch/innings counts for at least the first two seasons of their big league careers.
So where are they getting those innings from?
Here’s what I’d do if I were the Yankees and Sabathia opted out of the contract.
I’d let him leave.
Sabathia’s current contract would call for $23 million annually through 2015; if he opts out and returns, one would assume he’ll want it extended through 2018 for another $60 million.
If Sabathia isn’t willing to show a commitment for fitness, then there’s no new contract.
What the Yankees could do in lieu of Sabathia is pursue and get two of the three big name starting pitchers on the free agent market. Edwin Jackson, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are all out there and available.
Buehrle, 33 next March, is a guaranteed 220 innings; he’ll win 15-18 games; he’ll lose 8-12; and he’ll gut his way through with an ERA between 3.50 and 4.50, allow 20 or so homers allowed and maybe sprinkle a perfect game somewhere in there. Best of all with Buehrle, he’s constantly talking about when he’s going to retire, so he’s not going to require a 5-7 year contract a pitcher of his stature could reasonably ask for if he so desired.
Say he’s willing to take 3-years, $40 million.
Then you have Jackson and Wilson.
I think Jackson has star potential; he’s big and durable and because he was in the big leagues at 19, he’s only 28; even represented by Scott Boras, one would think a contract of 5-6 years at $75-80 million would get it done.
Wilson, 31, can be expected to provide 200+ innings a seasons for the foreseeable future in part because he was a reliever for the first 5 years of his big league career and the wear-and-tear on his arm is lessened as he enters his early-30s. Perhaps he wants a 6-year, $80-$90 million deal.
Rather than pay Sabathia that guaranteed cash and get the 200 innings a year—from an admittedly terrific pitcher—for the next couple of seasons, they could have two pitchers for the same money and get 400 innings and not have to worry about the burgeoning waistline of Sabathia.
If he opts out, they have to take a long, hard, round and ruthless look at it. If he’s too demanding or they have the above options in hand, they have to let him walk.
He could use the exercise anyway.