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Posted: Sunday October 5, 2008 6:08PM; Updated: Sunday October 5, 2008 11:11PM
Jon Heyman Jon Heyman >
INSIDE BASEBALL

Brewers considering surprise run to keep Sabathia in Milwaukee

Story Highlights
  • The Brewers are considering a surprise run at keeping CC Sabathia
  • The Dodgers, Giants, Mets and Yankee are among the other possible suitors
  • Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for the Brewers after a July trade
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CC Sabathia will be the top pitcher on the free-agent market after going 11-2 for the Brewers.
CC Sabathia will be the top pitcher on the free-agent market after going 11-2 for the Brewers.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
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MILWAUKEE -- The rising small-market Milwaukee Brewers are seriously considering a surprise run at keeping superstar pitcher CC Sabathia, but while Sabathia said he enjoyed his time in Milwaukee very much after the Brewers were eliminated by the Phillies, Brewers people also understand they'd be in over their heads if the bids go well beyond Johan Santana's pitching record $137.5 million, six-year deal.

"The Brewers will be in, unless the money gets crazy,'' said one person familiar with their thinking.

While the Brewers might consider pushing themselves into the low nine figures (over $100 million) with aggressive owner Mark Attanasio keeping the emphasis on winning, it's hard to imagine Milwaukee staying in a stratospheric bidding war. One competing owner predicted the number is going to be "big,'' meaning way bigger than most folks imagined after Sabathia enhanced his reputation by pitching the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.

Attanasio ran the team's payroll to close to $90 million after the smart decision to import Sabathia at midseason. However, the Brewers' limitations are obvious, including the team's comparatively puny $7 million local TV revenue.

The Yankees, whose overall revenue already is at $400 million-plus and will skyrocket next year with the opening of their new stadium, are expected to make a big pitch for Sabathia, who said after the Brewers were eliminated with a 6-2 Phillies victory that he'd consider any team that shows interest this winter, including the Brewers, the Yankees or anyone else.

Sabathia, 28, had only positive words for Milwaukee. "I'd be lying if I didn't say it was one of the better times in my life and my career,'' he said. "I enjoyed my time here and we accomplished a lot.'' He also complimented interim manager Dale Sveum, pitching coach Mike Maddux and many of his Brewers teammates.

But Sabathia also said, "I'll play anywhere,'' and kept the Yankees in play, saying of New York, "I enjoy that city. They've got a brand new stadium. We'll have to see what happens.''

"'Coming to a new city showed me it's pretty much the same anywhere,'' he said.

The Dodgers, Giants, Mets and hometown Giants are among many other possibilities. Some surprise teams could enter the picture, as well, for a pitcher who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for the Brewers.

When someone asked him about the irony of his last appearance being as a pinch hitter Sunday, Sabathia said, "Maybe it's not my last appearance.''

Sabathia took a swipe at the conventional wisdom that says he much preferred to go home to California to play. "All those who say I only want to go back to California to play, that's not true,'' Sabathia said.

He said he loved batting but wouldn't go so far as to say that that preference would eliminate American League teams.

"I'll play anywhere,'' he said.

 
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