Thursday, November 3, 2011

CC and Yankees Do The Right Thing

Note:  Pat wrote this one on Monday night.  Sorry for the delay.

The agreement that C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees came to really could not have worked out much better. It was one of those rare situations in sports negotiations these days where each side gave a little monetarily to get what they really wanted. The Yankees wanted Sabathia to stay, and Sabathia wanted to stay. As a result, the Yankees gave Sabathia more money, but not nearly as much as he likely would have gotten - from them or someone else - had he opted out.

Proceeding in this fashion speaks well of both Sabathia and the Yankees, as both spared themselves the drama that comes with a player opting out and free agency in general. The Yankees didn't take a hard line stance on the remainder of the contract, daring Sabathia to find more on the open market, and potentially straining relations. Rather, they recognized both the importance of Sabathia to the team and the fact that opting out - and getting more money - was his contractual right. It made a lot of sense to give him that money before he hit the open market, because he was going to get it no matter what. In addition to retaining Sabathia, they likely saved themsleves a good deal of money by going this route as well.

Sabathia's actions in this process were just further proof that he is one of the true class acts in this game today. He's long had this reputation on (his September with Milwaukee, carring the Yankees in the 2009 playoffs, etc.) and off (his extremely generous work giving back to the community, his presence in the clubhouse as a leader and a unifier) the field. And this only added to it. This opt out was his contractual right. It was written into his contract for a reason. He had no obligation to do anything but what was best for him. He pitched his tail off for the Yankees for three years and won a ring, and if he watned to test what else was out there and seek top dollar good for him. I don't care how much money you have, when you are talking about an extra $10 or $20 or $30 million that's something most anybody would consider. Athletes are not barred from being capitalists, after all.

But C.C. was happy to meet in the middle. He knew his value was beyond the 4 years and $92 million remaining on his contract, but finding out what his maximum value is wasn't most important to him. He clearly likes it in New York, and he clearly cares about the opportunity to win every year. He didn't have any interest in free agent drama in search of the last dollar. He cares about his family being happy, his teammates, and winning. He doesn't have time for all that other stuff, as long as he's getting something close to reflective of what he's worth.

That's what this deal represents. With all the things we complain about in this game in terms of people seeking money over team, it was refreshing to get a different result here. Much like it was when Rivera's extension went so smoothly last winter. Especially from two guys who are truly two of the elite performers in the game, and could have had teams clamoring for their services on the open market. It's a relative analysis, because both players still got a lot of money. But within the relativity of the amount of money elite baseball players make, C.C., like Rivera, made a showing of loyalty with how he conducted himself. That he cares about being here and about winning. As a fan, that's what you want.

The Yankees showed him loyalty in return. They know how important he is to them and they wanted to make it clear how much they wanted him to stay here. It's fitting, at least for me, that this is likely the last deal I will cover for HYD. This site was born, in part, out of DV's and my complaining about the moves our teams made in the early-middle part of this decade. Deals that were, really, the opposite of how this one went down. Drama-filled, not as mutually beneficial, over-spending on players that weren't worth it, etc. This deal really is phenomenal, and is just another reason why C.C. Sabathia is one of my five favorite Yankees of All-Time, a spot he earned before he was two months into his first regular season with the Yankees. He has that "it" factor, that extra level of compete that separates him from most of the field, that leadership, and that talent. It's awesome having him on the Yankees, and I'm thrilled he's back.

1 comment:

the gm said...

PF,

You say a lot of things in this post that I agree with quite a bit. I like the heartfelt nature of it as well, and good for CC for having some kind of loyalty to the source of his humongous paychecks. I think that right there is something that boggles my mind about guys like Arod, Drew, or eventually 46. These teams take a huge risk on you, both in terms of organizational positions and in money, and it's rare that you see a guy treat his employer with the kind of respect that CC is treating his with.

As you write, "athletes are not barred from being capitalists," and I agree with that. I am not barred from killing guys who are. I treat loyalty and respect like currency, as anyone who's read this site for longer than a week already knows.

You almost have to think retrospectively that the opt-out clause in the contract really wasn't written because CC is a DB, which is what I think most of us were thinking in the first place. It was more of a New York/fitting in thing than a money thing, it's looking like. If it were just a money thing, as you said, he'd be testing the open market, he and the Yankees would probably be in a contentious (and eventually lucrative) game of chicken, and he would probably hurt his own reputation.

This proves two things, the first of which is your theory, the second of which is mine:

1. You do not need to be a Scott Boras slimeball and be a complete prick in negotiations to get paid.
2. CC Sabathia cares about more than money.

Good for him.

As far as where this move goes alongside all the moves that inspired the inception of HYD, I like the connection. I might have to write about this (possibly continuing our production into December against our initial shutdown goals), but both of our teams were in the midst of a slew of insanely idiotic personnel moves in 2006. The Yankees paid for it in the middle part of the decade, and the Red Sox are paying for it now. The CC extension certainly has the potential to be a bad contract, but most of it probably will not be.