Good for the Brewers for making a big-money offer to CC Sabathia. They had to do it. And now he has to tell thanks, move on, and wait until the teams with real money are allowed to start making their bids.
We all know Sabathia isn't staying in Milwaukee. The truth is, they shouldn't even want him to stay, not at the $20 million or more they presumably offered.
Sabathia was perfect for the Brewers in 2008, when they only had to pay him the prorated portion of his $11 million salary for the final three months of the season. But how in the world do you fit a $20 million salary, especially for one starting pitcher, into the $81 million payroll the Brewers had in 2008?
But the Brewers payroll will rise in 2009, you say. Sure it will, but how high?
Only 12 players in baseball made even $16 million in 2008. Of those 12, eight played in New York (five with the Yankees, three with the Mets). Three others began the season with the Red Sox, Mariners and Angels, three other teams with payrolls of $117 million or higher. Only Todd Helton of the Rockies made as much as $16 million for a team with a payroll under $100 million.
Yes, Sabathia changed the baseball culture in Milwaukee. The trade was a fine idea, and it worked out, even though the Brewers lost to the eventual champion Phillies in four games in the Division Series.
But signing Sabathia to a contract that would keep the Brewers from being able to build a team around him wouldn't have been a good idea.
You can bet the Brewers know that. They had to make him a big-money offer, and good for them for doing it.
Sabathia had to reject that offer, which he no doubt will. Good for him, and good for the Brewers, too.
The Giants haven't been talked about as a serious player in the Sabathia free-agent market, but one scout wondered this week what would happen if they could land him.
"Look for San Francisco to be the up-and-coming team in that division," the scout said. "Two years from now, that team could go deep into the playoffs. If they got Sabathia, they might do it next year."
While the Yankees search for pitching at the general managers' meetings in Dana Point, Calif. (a search they hope will bring them Sabathia), there was some good Yankee news out of the Arizona Fall League on Monday.
Phil Hughes pitched five shutout innings for Peoria, allowing just one hit, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
At least one (non-Yankee) scout who attended was very impressed.
"He was very good," the scout said. "He commanded his fastball very well. People forget that he's still only 22 years old. He should be a senior in college right now."
The same scout said that Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson, who hasn't allowed a run in 13 2/3 AFL innings, is the most impressive player in the league this year.