Yankees ace CC Sabathia has stated time and time again that he wants to remain in New York, but all signs point to him opting out of his contract this winter in order to gain a few more years and dollars.
In order to secure those years and dollars, though, Sabathia will need other interested suitors.
The Yankees won’t open their wallets unless given a reason — an opponent or two willing to meet or exceed the already-lofty salaries on his current deal.
Enter the AL West champion Rangers.
A “baseball source” told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York this week that the Texas front office is preparing to make a significant bid for the 31-year-old left-hander with the expectation that he will indeed opt out after the World Series.
“I hear they’re going to throw a boatload of money at him,” said the source, who requested anonymity, “But I think he’ll stay with the Yankees. He’s talked so much about how much he loves New York, and besides, the Yankees can’t afford to lose him from that pitching staff.”
Sabathia posted a 3.00 ERA and 230/61 K/BB ratio in 237 1/3 innings this season for the American League East champion Yankees. It’s hard to imagine baseball’s biggest spenders letting him go, especially with their lack of rotation depth. But Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and Co. are apparently going to give it a whirl.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.