Joe Posnanski wrote about the process that went into the signing of CC Sabathia during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last week (excerpted from tomorrow's issue of Sports Illustrated).
The biggest jackpot is the big free-agent lefthander Carsten Charles Sabathia, CC for short. He could be the heaviest pitcher in baseball history,* not that his weight has anything to do with it; Sabathia won the Cy Young Award in 2007. He was even better in '08, especially after he was traded in July from the Cleveland Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers (11-2, 1.65 ERA after the deal, delivering the Brewers their first playoff appearance in 26 years).
*That title of heaviest pitcher usually goes to Jumbo Brown, a reliever for five teams from 1925 through '41. Jumbo was listed at 295 pounds. Sabathia is officially listed at 290-but there are reasons to believe that his official weight would be overturned upon further review.
Sabathia was so good in Milwaukee that the Brewers are cashing in all of their savings bonds, pulling out the money they stuffed into mattresses and borrowing from various grandparents in an effort to keep him. The down-market team has reportedly offered him $100 million for five years, a staggering sum, almost double the salary they have ever offered a player. But because the Yankees are said to be interested, nobody believes the Milwaukee money will be nearly enough.
The first big rumor to make the rounds on Day 2 is that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman slipped out of Vegas and headed for San Francisco to meet with Sabathia. Nobody seems quite sure how Cashman made it out of the hotel without being noticed. "He must be like James Bond," says one baseball scout, though nobody is quite sure what he means.
Everyone knows that the Red Sox and the Yankees do not like each other, but seeing the "You sunk my battleship" looks on the faces of Boston officials in the moments after New York signs CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) tells a more complete story. "You have to understand," one Red Sox official says, "they won last night. Sure, we knew there was a good chance they would sign CC. We planned for it. But now that it has happened, I can tell you, it's like a punch to the gut. We never stop competing with the Yankees."
Ironically, some media members have ripped Cashman for the Sabathia deal, yet also ripped him for not trading for Johan Santana. A big reason they didn't trade for Santana was because CC was going to be a free agent this winter. Why give up four prospects and a long-term deal when you can give up merely one potential prospect and a long-term deal?
Frankly, Santana is a year-and-a-half older than Sabathia and was trending downward (and still mostly is) when the Mets traded for him. Sabathia is trending upward.