Within minutes of the Yankees’ season ending CC Sabathia was asked whether he planned to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract to become a free agent, but the left-hander told reporters that he wasn’t ready to think about it yet.
“I can’t even wrap my head around that right now,” Sabathia said. “I’m just thinking about what I didn’t do to help us win. Maybe in the next couple days, next couple of weeks, I’ll think about that and see what happens.”
That certainly doesn’t qualify as a “no, I’m definitely not opting out” answer.
Sabathia has repeatedly said he loves playing for the Yankees and in New York, but from a strictly business standpoint he’d seemingly have little trouble securing a deal on the open market that beats the four years and $92 million remaining on his current contract. And he could always opt out and then re-sign with the Yankees anyway, for more money and a longer commitment.
Last offseason Cliff Lee got a five-year, $120 million deal from the Phillies that could be worth up to $147.5 million for six years and two offseasons ago the Yankees felt Sabathia was worth a seven-year, $161 million commitment. If he’s interested in maximizing his earning potential opting out is pretty obviously the way to go following a season in which he went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 237 innings at age 30.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.