The Santana Clause (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday February 6, 2008 12:36PM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 12:36PM
You might, at this point, ask if Sabathia, as good as he is, might really be worth a Santana-sized contract. Here's a quick five-point comparison, for shopping purposes only:
A.) They are -- Sabathia and Santana -- both lefties.
B.) They are both young. Sabathia is 27. Santana turns 29 next month.
C.) They both have proven to be winners as the ace of their respective staffs. Sabathia is 100-63 in seven years, with a 3.83 ERA. Santana is 93-44 in eight years, with a 3.22.
D.) Both of them are horses of a sort. Sabathia has never made fewer than 28 starts in a year and has averaged more than 200 innings in his seven full seasons, including 241 last season (not including the postseason). Santana, meanwhile, has never thrown fewer than 219 regular-season innings in his four years as a full-time starter.
E.) They both were scheduled to become free agents after the 2008 season. Until Santana was traded to the Mets, that is, then agreed to that Cleveland-shaking deal.
No matter what differences you might cite between the two pitchers who have combined to win three of the past four AL Cy Young awards -- Santana gives up more home runs, Sabathia allows more baserunners, Santana had a terrible September last season, Sabathia struggled in the '07 playoffs, Santana's a better strikeout pitcher and on and on -- it's a pretty fair comparison.
"It's one more reference point," Shapiro says of the Santana contract. "The level of reference will depend on C.C., Scott Parker and his representatives."
The Indians, much to their credit, are trying. Shapiro reportedly offered Sabathia the largest contract in the team's history last month, though the terms of that offer are unclear. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians slipped a four-year deal onto the table, worth between $68 and $72 million. Sabathia is due to make $11.25 million in 2008.
The Indians say that they'd like to get something wrapped up by next week, but they're fine, too, with working on it all season, if that's what it takes. ("If we can't deal with an unresolved contract situation," Shapiro says, "then we don't deserve to be a championship team.")
Sabathia, being the well-liked and generally good guy that he is, is saying all the right things, too. "Everybody wants to stay. The core of this team has been together for a long time. We've been through a lot together," he said back in July. "We want to win together." He recently called Cleveland a "second home." (He's originally from Northern California.) He genuinely seems to like playing for Indians' fans.
All that is still a long way from getting things done. To buck the odds and sign Sabathia to a long-term contract -- for any small-market team to sign a big-time starting pitcher -- everybody knows what's going to have to be done. The team is going to have to get "creative," as Shapiro calls it. The player probably will have to leave some money on the table. And, in the end, even that probably isn't going to be enough.
That's not very encouraging for the freaked-out faithful of Cleveland. But, as they well know, it's just part of being a fan these days.
THE ARMS RACE
Here are some recent contracts for starting pitchers, all done within the last two years, that might come into play in C.C. Sabathia's ongoing negotiations for a long-term contract with the Indians. (Contracts are the most-recent signed and don't include possible option years.)
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