Yankees ace CC Sabathia has an opt-out clause that he can exercise after the 2011 season and in the past he has always made it clear that he would not use it to leave the Bronx or even just try for more money. However, Joel Sherman of the NY Post notes that his tune on the matter has changed:
But in a one-on-one conversation with The Post afterward, Sabathia was given a few chances to definitively say he would not opt out — as he had previously — and did not. On one occasion he said, “Anything is possible in a contract.” In another, the big lefty said, “Who knows what is possible, but I am not thinking about anything beyond Opening Day.”
Asked if his agents had advised him to stop saying he would not opt out, Sabathia said, no, he was answering the questions as he saw fit. Interestingly, in explaining why he lost 25 pounds in the offseason, Sabathia said on a few occasions that he wants to pitch another eight to 10 years. He is entering Year 3 of his seven-year, $161 million contract with the Yankees.
Sabathia, 30, will earn $23 million in 2011 and then will have four years and $92 million left on his deal. That’s a serious amount of money, but with no other big name free agents on the market a year from now he’ll have a ton of leverage if, say, he wants a six or seven year deal.
He would probably get whatever he wanted too. Not only would he actually be a year younger than when Cliff Lee signed his five year $120 million deal, but without the big man the Yankees rotation would be a disaster. They would almost have to give him whatever he asked for and what would stop him from asking for, at the very least, five years and $144 million?
Sabathia has in the past expressed pretty emphatically that he would not opt-out. Even when he first signed his deal he said that the opt-out didn’t matter to him that it was something that his agent insisted upon but had nothing to do with him. So there is a chance that he sticks to that story and doesn’t opt-out. However, he has at least left the door open that he could exercise his right to be a free agent. If he didn’t use it, he would be the first big-name free agent who didn’t invoke the clause.