CC SabathiaIndians Holding Back On Years For Sabathia

Sometimes the writing on the wall is so obvious, it hurts. The writing on this wall was so bright it served as a blinding beacon. For the past year, I have been telling anyone who would listen that the main factor that is going to prevent CC Sabathia from re-signing with the Tribe was going to be the number of years, not the number of dollars.

Well, it appears that this is exactly what is happening. It’s a story that has gone by surprisingly quietly without a lot written about it, but GM Mark Shapiro has indeed made the Indians’ proposal to Sabathia and his agent. And wouldn’t you know it, the Sabathia camp is not happy at all with the number of years being offered.

I first noticed this story a few days ago in one of the “Hey, Hoynsie” articles in the Plain Dealer. In that article, a question was asked of Paul Hoynes about the Sabathia contract,

“Q: Hey, Hoynsie: What’s up with C.C. Sabathia? Has there been a formal offer made by the Tribe? – Mark Lasher, Bangor, Pa.

A: Hey, Mark: GM Mark Shapiro confirmed that the offer has been made, but would say nothing else. The length of the contract, rather than the money involved, is expected to be a problem. Sabathia’s agents believe he’s earned a lengthy deal (five to seven years), but it’s unlikely the Indians would be willing to make that kind of commitment. It’s doubtful these negotiations will reach any kind of conclusion until the start of the regular season.”

Without any kind of disclosure about the terms of the proposal, it’s hard to comment. Over at Baseball Prospectus, John Perrotto offered a little insight into the negotiations, writing,

“Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia will have a tough decision in the upcoming months, as he must decide whether to re-sign with the Indians or become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. The Indians are expected to hold firm at an offer of four years and an option, while Sabathia–who genuinely wants to stay in Cleveland–will likely look for a contract similar to what Santana is seeking should he be traded.”

For his part, Tim Dierkes over at mlbtraderumors.com speculates what the Indians’ max offer might be,

“Realistically, I think the Indians could top out around four years, $72MM plus an option for 2013 in their offer to Sabathia. Will Sabathia make that concession, or will he go for the free market and maybe get seven years, $140MM?”

In all honesty, I’m surprised this hasn’t been written about any more than it has. I really wish we knew for certain what the Indians’ official offer really is. If the Indians are offering 4 years, and Sabathia would sign for 5 years, it seems hard to believe that gap couldn’t be bridged. Taken at face value, I would expect the Indians to eventually back down and guarantee the 5th year of the deal. It’s hard to make an argument that Sabathia hasn’t earned it. But again, we are only speculating at this point. Until we know for sure the true dollar figures involved, we can’t draw a line in the sand on this issue. Patience will be a virtue on this topic it seems.

I’ll try to keep updating this story as more is learned and as time draws on. With pitchers and catchers due to report before too long, it would be nice to see this time used to make some headway in closing the gap between the two sides. Nobody wants this cloud hanging over the team all season. It will be a major distraction and will just be bad business for everyone involved.

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