New York Yankees' CC Sabathia pitches in the first inning...

New York Yankees' CC Sabathia pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. (Aug. 6, 2011) Credit: AP

The Yankees have made it no secret that retaining CC Sabathia is their top offseason priority, so it's no surprise the way to do so took center stage yesterday during the organizational meetings held in Tampa, Fla.

The meetings were scheduled to last two days, but Wednesday's 6 1/2-hour session was deemed sufficient and the team's New York-based hierarchy headed home afterward.

The meeting, overseen by general manager Brian Cashman, included managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, senior director of pro personnel Billy Eppler, senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, special adviser Gene Michael and assistant general manager Jean Afterman.

Cashman's contract expires Monday but he, and the team, have said a new deal will be in place before then.

Cashman did not return a call Wednesday and though Levine did late in the afternoon, he also declined to comment on the meeting.

Sabathia has an opt-out clause in his seven-year, $161-million deal. He has until three days after the conclusion of the World Series to exercise it, something the organization expects and hopes to avoid by extending the lefthander before then.

How to do so was among the topics discussed Wednesday.

Sabathia has four years and $92 million left on his deal and the Yankees' preference is to give the pitcher more money -- perhaps upward of $25 million a year, a raise from an average of $23 million -- than years.

"I think seven years is a pretty big commitment," one Yankees official said, noting the potential for injury -- because of the 31-year-old's weight and number of innings absorbed -- at the back end of a long deal.

Sabathia's weight gain during this season's second half concerned some in the organization, though certainly not to the degree of wanting to cut bait with the pitcher.

Far from it.

Six years could end up being the compromise landing spot for the Yankees and Sabathia's representatives, though it's unknown if another team, should Sabathia choose to re-enter the market, would go to seven or eight years.

Among the other subjects covered were the club options the team has on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Cano's $14-million option will be picked up and Swisher's $10.25-million option also is likely to, though former Met Carlos Beltran, a free agent, was among the outfield names discussed at last week's pro scouting meetings.

Eppler on Angels' radar

Eppler, a candidate for the Los Angeles Angels' vacant general manager's job, has been called for a second interview. Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman appears to be the leading candidate but may be reluctant to leave the Rays.

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