Yankees will meet to formulate plan to keep CC Sabathia

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While the New York Daily News photo-shops CC Sabathia into a Red Sox uniform the New York Post (and George King) reports that the Yankees will meet in Florida to formulate a plan to keep Sabathia.

A few months ago there were several reports about how Sabathia had no plans to exercise his opt-out clause, but at this point just about everyone seems to agree that he’ll do so and test free agency.

And rightfully so, because from Sabathia’s point of view there’s really no downside to hitting the open market even if his ultimate goal is to remain with the Yankees. He can do that, but also get a bigger commitment from New York than the four years and $92 million remaining on his current deal.

According to King “the Yankees will develop a plan they hope will keep Sabathia from opting out of a contract following the World Series.”

That makes sense given that he has until three days after the World Series to exercise the opt-out clause and in the meantime the Yankees have exclusive negotiating rights, but it’s hardly guaranteed that Sabathia (or his agent) is willing to agree to a deal before fielding offers as a free agent.

King speculates that the Yankees would be “agreeable” to a five- or six-year deal worth more than the $23 million per season he’s getting now. Last offseason Cliff Lee inked a five-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies, so that would seemingly be the starting point for a new Sabathia contract.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.