"We're prepared to do something with him here very shortly. He'll probably be getting ready to file for free agency but I don't expect an answer real soon," general manager Doug Melvin said Thursday.
Sabathia has until Nov. 13 to file for free agency and can start negotiating with all teams the following day. The Brewers are hopeful that he'll remain with the small-market franchise, which advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
"He's not going to be a guy who is going to have 27 phone calls. He's only going to get five," Melvin said. "If he's going to demand the money he's going to demand, he'll get a lot less phone calls than maybe even Ray Durham or somebody like that that we have."
Milwaukee acquired Sabathia from Cleveland for four top prospects July 7, and he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, including seven complete games. That run could get him a contract topping the record for a pitcher, Johan Santana's $137.5 million, six-year agreement with the New York Mets.
While young stars Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks and Yovani Gallardo will return, up to 12 players are eligible for free agency, including Ben Sheets. Milwaukee holds options on center fielder Mike Cameron ($10 million), closer Salomon Torres ($3.75 million) and infielder Craig Counsell ($3.4 million).
"We haven't made those decisions yet," Melvin said.
Besides Sabathia, Cameron and Sheets figure to draw the most interest as free agents.
"Our roster will change dramatically," Melvin said. "We'll make an offer to CC, we'll see how that goes, but the other part of it is we're going to have to turn the roster over like Oakland had" to.