What Will CC Sabathia Get?

With the Brewers’ elimination from the playoffs, speculation about the future of hired gun CC Sabathia has already started. And though the Brewers only brought in Sabathia in for a 2008 playoff run, the front office is open to the idea of retaining its ace.

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.

So, what will the Brewers have to spend to keep Sabathia? According to my projected marginal revenue product model, Sabathia will be worth $144 million for a six-year deal, which translates to $24 million a year. (If you’re not familiar with my model, it is based on recent performance and takes into account aging and league salary growth.)

Basically, it’s going to take Santana money to sign him. I don’t know if this is “crazy” money, but I suspect it will be the going market rate for Sabathia’s services.

18 Responses “What Will CC Sabathia Get?”

  1. Rick says:

    I can’t think of any other elite level pitchers that I would give a contract longer than 3 years to than Sabathia. All of the other potential aces have either age or injury concerns. I’m guessing that the teams in the mix for Sabathia would be, besides the Brewers, the Yankees, Angels, Mets, Cubs and Dodgers. Personally, I would really like it if he did end up staying with the Brewers.

  2. John says:

    Have you adjusted your league salary growth factors at all due to the recent economic super fun times we’re currently facing?

  3. JC says:

    Salary growth is based on average growth over the past two decades. The current economic climate may dampen some growth, but I expect it will not differ too much from the long-run trend.

  4. John says:

    Thanks for the response JC.  Even if on the whole there was some dampening, the fact that the Yankees will be involved with their new stadium monies would probably cause the CC case to be moot.  I think it will be interesting to see if the economy and the Rays will cause a flattening of FA deals this year.  I could see quite a few owners claim “going the Rays route” when its mainly that they don’t want to spend money (not that most ever really want to).

  5. Telnar says:

    To help me understand your model, could you show some of the details of your 6/$144m salary estimate?  I’m most interested in the number of wins above replacement by year (most of the projecting systems haven’t updated using the 2008 data, so if I go to PETCOA (for example), I’ll get a projection which doesn’t include the data from his outstanding 2008 season (and therefore is probably 0.5 to 1.0 wins too low for most years).  Also, does your projection include his value as a hitter (which is well above average for a pitcher)?  Some of the teams bidding for him (including the Yankees, perhaps the most motivated buyer) won’t be able to benefit from that value, so it will only be partially relevant to his market price.

  6. Dan says:

    I agree with John in that if the Yankees decide they wank cc, they will pay more than market value to get him.  To them, he’s worth more than he could ever be to the Brewers.  They could make him the highest paid pitcher in baseball over the next 5 years, and still get more value than cost out of him.

  7. JC says:

    The basic model is detailed in chapter 13 of my book.  I have commented on the model many times on the site, so you will find out more if you search through past posts. It’s too detailed to discuss again here. The model does not include pitcher hitting

  8. Rick says:

    Isn’t the inflation rate for FAs around 10%?

  9. JC says:

    The salary growth rate is 10%, which includes inflation.

  10. Ken Houghton says:

    What do you project for him for seven years (starting in 2008); that is, if you leave this year out of the calculations?

    (Yes, I am old enough to remember Rick “16 and 1” Sutcliffe.  How did you know?)

  11. Jason S. says:

    Your numbers sound about right to me, although Milwaukee might get him back for “only” $22 million a year if they make it a 7 year deal instead of 6.  I don’t see him signing anywhere for $20 million or less per year.

  12. Scott says:

    Brandon Webb is only 1 year older, and has no injury concerns. He is also in much better shape than CC.

  13. AndrewYF says:

    Webb is also a lesser pitcher than CC Sabathia.

  14. BunkerHill1776 says:

     Sabathia will be the number 1 target of the Boston Red Sox……CC, Beckett, Lester, DiceK, Wakes and a bullpen of Masterson, Paps, MDC, Oki with some FA Middle relief………
    And still have some young talent to trade for a Catcher (Texas)………

  15. Millsy says:

    I think someone already said it, but is there reason to think the ‘age’ adjustment in the model may also need a ‘fat guy’ adjustment?  After these two great years, I think Sabathia will see around $20 million, too.  Seems like this offseason calls for some big market teams to get into a bidding war for a pitcher so that should keep him up.  The possibility of trading for Jake Peavy may have an interesting push for bidding teams with prospects to trade.  It seems like carrying the weight Sabathia does, his body may break down earlier than most.  This may be impossible to quantify, but may have an effect when people start bidding for more than a few years on a contract for a pitcher like him.  Has anyone looked into weight concerns in pitchers as they age?  Sidney Ponson comes to mind (not that he was EVER CC).  Maybe a ‘drinking problem’ adjustment? 

  16. AgRej says:

    Only letting Sheets and Gagné go is 22 million a year. I think the Brewers are going to keep him for 6 years at 22 million a year.

  17. Gary says:

    Webb was re-signed during his arbitration years, before he could go onto the open market and offer his services to several clubs.  That’s why Albert Pujols’ deal (7/$100) or Dan Haren’s (4/$44) are both so under market value.  If Webb was on the open market, he’d definitely be looking at $20 million a year or so.

  18. Eric says:


    Roy Halladay.

    Best starter in the game.