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November 28, 2008 at 9:46 am ET
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Assessing the Sabathia risks

While the New York Yankees wait to find out whether or not CC Sabathia will be in their 2009 rotation, the New York Daily News reminds us just how risky mega-contracts for pitchers can be.

While Sabathia has proven he’s a terrific, durable pitcher, there are plentiful cautionary tales for the Yankees, Brewers and Angels to consider. None of the four previous $100 million pitchers – (Kevin) Brown, (Johan) Santana, Barry Zito and Mike Hampton – has pitched in the playoffs for the team he signed with. In fact, none of the teams that have signed a pitcher to a nine-figure deal has made the playoffs while that pitcher has been on their roster.

“The dangers in these kinds of deals are tremendous,” said a baseball executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. “How old is the pitcher? What is his history of injury? Based on his age, how fast will his performance decline, because most pitchers, as they get older, they lose their velocity and have to become more of a pitcher and mix it up, change.

“You weigh how good the pitcher is, what is your team’s need, how long do you think he can sustain his performance? There are pros to CC – he’s a big guy, a good athlete, a horse. On the other hand, he’s pitched a lot of innings.”

This is a risk I believe the Yankees have to take, and judging from the six-year, $140 million offer they have made, they also believe that.

More from the Daily News:

The Yankees, might be in a position in which they’ll have to accept nearly any dangers, says Vince Gennaro, the author of “Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball,” which examines how much players are worth to their teams.

“The second-biggest issue they could have is overpaying CC,” Gennaro said. “The biggest issue would be not making the postseason in ’09.

“The Yankees are the one team who has to err on the high side coming into this season. Once the novelty of the new park wears off – and at those prices, it might wear off quicker – they will have to deliver a product.

“People will have to feel like they are coming to see the Yankees, a team that is going to be in the postseason. The Yankees are sort of in a corner right now where it’s probably not the worst thing if they took on more risk than they might want to.”

To be honest, I feel better about the Sabathia offer than I do about whatever money the Yankees would have to throw at A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe. I would be happy if the Yankees netted Sabathia, then passed on the other two.

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One Response to “Assessing the Sabathia risks”
  1. CC in NY '09 says:

    Yeah there’s inherent risk by offering a pitcher a long-term deal. However, in the Yankees’ case, if CC can help win just one WS, it’ll be all worth it in terms of the additional revenue stream he brings in.

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