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What CC Will the Yankees Get?



By Mike Silva ~ November 1st, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Yankees.

CC Sabathia is back safely in the fold and should provide the Yankees the top of the rotation anchor they need to content in 2012. But what have the Yankees signed on for the next five years? Will he be as good as the last 3, or anything close to it? What are the Yankees getting for $122 million over the next five years?

In his first three years in pinstripes, Sabathia is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA. Only Justin Verlander has more wins during this period of time. This was accomplished during ages 28-30. The five year extension makes his original deal 8-years, potentially 9 if his easily obtainable 2017 option vests. If Sabathia doesn’t suffer a “significant left shoulder injury” (Notice it said shoulder, not elbow). The total monetary investment in Sabathia could total over $200 million dollars when you count the$63 million he’s already earned.

How does this compare with other long-term contracts of more than 5 years? How did the pitchers fare after age 31 in those contracts? Let’s take a look:

Pedro Martinez: Before Age 31 he was 87-24, 2.27 with an ERA+ of 212. During the final two years (age 31 and 32 season), he was 30-13, 3.12 with an ERA+ of 153. To date, Martinez might be the only pitching contract of more than 5 years that worked out completely well for the ball club. Of course, the Red Sox signed him when he was 26 years old. They also let him walk in 2004 and had the Mets pay for his age 33-36 decline (32-23, 3.88, ERA+ of 109).

Johan Santana: The jury is still out on Santana, but he didn’t pitch at all this past season at age 32. The 6 year/$137.5 million dollar deal was signed when he was entering his age 29 season. Santana has gone 40-25 with a 2.85 ERA with an ERA+ of 143. This is skewed by his ’08 season (16-7, 2.53, ERA+ of 166). Santana isn’t the same pitcher that won 2 Cy Young Award’s in Minnesota. If he averages 15 wins and an ERA around 3.50 the rest of the deal the Mets would be ecstatic. Although that’s good, it’s not worth an average of $23 million dollars a year; especially with a team payroll around $100 million.

Kevin Brown: This is not a fair comparison since Brown signed his 7 year/$105 million dollar deal when he was 34 years old. He was actually pretty good for the Dodgers the first 5 years (58-32, 2.83, ERA+ of 148) and it was the Yankees who paid for his final two disastrous seasons (14-13, 4.95, ERA+ of 89).

Barry Zito: The Giants signed him at age 29 to a 7 year/$126 million dollar deal. He was bad before age 31 (31-43, 4.56, ERA+ of 97) and after (12-18, 4.52, ERA+ of 85. This is just a bad contract for a player that was beginning to decline his final years in Oakland when no one was paying attention.

Mike Hampton: The worst free-agent pitching contract of all-time. Signed the 8 year/$121 million dollar deal at age 28. Went 48-45 with a 4.92 ERA and ERA+ of 95 until age 31. From age 32-35 he made only 25 starts, missing two whole seasons due to injury. I wonder if he didn’t spend the first two years in Colorado how the front-half of the contract would look. His 2003 season in Atlanta was decent (14-8, 3.84, ERA+ of 112). Certainly not a performance worth an 8-year deal, but I don’t think Hampton was the below league average pitcher we saw in Colorado.

In the end, only Pedro Martinez was effective for the entire portion of his deal. Cliff Lee, and now CC Sabathia can change that in the next five years. In the second-half of 2011 he was 6-4 with a 3.44 ERA., and gave up 96 hits in 91 innings. On a positive note, his strikeouts went way up to over a batter per inning, while his walks went down. Perhaps just a bad stretch, but remember he wasn’t great in the postseason either. Again, could be an anomaly because of the rainout in Game 1 that changed the whole scheduling dynamic of the series.

Regardless, the Yankees have a tendency to eat money, so even if Sabathia is a reincarnation of a late-career Mickey Lolich, both physically and on the field during the back-half of the deal, it won’t stop them from going after someone else’s ace in 2016.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to What CC Will the Yankees Get?

  1. tnt1528

    which c.c. will the yankees get?im betting on a heavy one

  2. Brien Jackson

    Comparing players on the basis of contract length obscures more than it illuminates. It makes more sense to look at the 31-36 year old seasons of comparable pitchers. Brown’s a great example; had he signed that deal prior to his age 31 season, it would have been one of the better free agent signings ever.

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