The New York Yankees have confirmed offering a big contract to free agent pitcher C.C. Sabathia and said they will be chasing more pitchers to shore up their shaky rotation for next season.
Free-agent signing opened on Friday with the Yankees offering Sabathia what is thought to be a record offer for a pitcher.
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner confirmed Friday that an offer was made to Sabathia, and that proposals will be forthcoming for pitchers A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe.
“Yes,” Steinbrenner said when asked if an offer was made to Sabathia. “And we’re prepared to make offers to Burnett and Lowe.”
The Yankees contract offer would exceed the record US$137.5 million, six-year contract given to New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana ahead of this season, a baseball official familiar with the negotiations said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details.
Steinbrenner declined to detail the Sabathia offer, but felt the Yankees will succeed in the free-agent market.
“I’m starting to become very optimistic,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s going to be mutually beneficial to us and for these particular players that we’re after for them to join the Yankees.”
The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years last season, and curing their pitching ills was first priority for next year.
Sabathia was traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee last season, and was a principal factor in the Brewers’ rare playoff appearance.
Other top free-agent starters are likely to wait for the Sabathia deal to be done, setting a new benchmark price for pitchers.
“The signing of C.C. is going to create probably a truer market for a number of the pitchers, mainly because the clubs that are bidding on C.C. didn’t get him, and the demand for the other pitchers will be greater,” said agent Scott Boras, who represents free agents Oliver Perez and Lowe.
The 171 players who filed for free agency after the World Series could start negotiating money with all teams starting on Friday.
Francisco Rodriguez tops the available relief pitchers, a group that also includes Brian Fuentes and Kerry Wood.