CC Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in baseball and firmly entrenched as the Yankees' number one starter, but could he be on the move after this season?
Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees in the winter of 2008. He's already won one World Series in that time and the Yanks figure to be in contention for several more.
But Sabathia has an opt-out clause after the third year (this season) of his contract and could use it to become a free agent or sign an even more-lucrative contract extension.
Yankees fans are familiar with this tactic. Alex Rodriguez had a similar clause in the 10-year, $250 million contract he signed with the Rangers in 2000. He famously announced he was opting-out of the deal during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, a move that angered MLB and drew ire from the media for the move. Rodriguez then went and re-signed with the Yankees for 10-years and $275 million.
Should Sabathia have a season in line with his career numbers, he could stand to earn much more than the $23 million annual average of his current deal, especially on a team that might be facing pitching questions again next offseason.
Could Sabathia wrangle $200 million over eight years out of the Yankees? That would raise his yearly salary to an average of $25 million and keep him in pinstripes until the final out of the 2019 World Series. He already has the record for biggest contract for a pitcher in MLB history, but after another stellar season he would be in line to shatter that record with a new one if he opted out.
Assuming he does opt out, would he consider leaving the team?
Sabathia seems to love New York. He's treated as a hero for winning a World Series and is a frequent guest courtside at the Knicks games.
However, he and his family are from Northern California (Vallejo, to be exact), and should the Dodgers ownership situation get sorted out, the new brass at Chavez Ravine would be itching to make a big splash.
The same goes for Arte Moreno in Anaheim. The Angels may have money to toss around and after years of getting burned in free agency, they would love another chance to bring Sabathia to the AL West.
Those are just two scenarios based on a presumed geographic preference. It's likely every team with the resources would give Sabathia their best offer.
Albert Pujols's contract situation is going to be the most-watched subplot of the upcoming season if his self-imposed deadline passes.
But the drama and speculation that will surround Sabathia, should he opt out, will be just as interesting to watch, and should have Yankees fans and management every bit as worried.