Once general manager Brian Cashman is officially back on board -- an announcement very well could come Monday -- the offseason work sure to involve a bit more drama for the Yankees will be front and center.
It revolves around ace CC Sabathia, who has until 11:59 p.m. Monday to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.
Despite the Yankees' efforts to extend Sabathia -- they presented his representatives an offer over the weekend -- an opt-out is the probable outcome. In fact, SI.com reported Sunday night that he "plans" to exercise his opt-out and test the market. That will not catch the club by surprise; the overwhelming organizational expectation all season was that he would do that.
Sabathia has four years and $92 million left on the seven-year, $161-million deal he signed before the 2009 season. The Yankees are prepared to give him more money and years after spending part of their organizational meeting last week formulating a plan of attack.
The Yankees would be the heavy favorite to re-sign Sabathia if he does re-enter the marketplace, but a sticking point could occur if the pitcher's representatives insist on a seventh or eighth year. The club's preference would be a five-year deal, but a sixth season probably wouldn't be a deal-breaker. Regardless, Sabathia's per-season average is likely to increase to the neighborhood of $25 million a season, up from $23 million.
Retaining Sabathia is the Yankees' top priority, for obvious reasons. Without the lefthander, who is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA in three seasons as a Yankee, their rotation would consist of Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, with perhaps Hector Noesi and David Phelps, or another untested minor-leaguer. The free-agent pitching class is weak, led by Rangers lefthander C.J. Wilson, of whom there hardly is unanimous thinking within the Yankees.
A new contract for Cashman, whose three-year contract expires today, was all but done before the weekend and is expected to be for three years. The Yankees picked up the club options on Robinson Cano ($14 million) and Nick Swisher ($10.25 million) on Saturday.