Sources: Yanks eye CC Sabathia deal

NEW YORK -- With both sides highly motivated to get a deal done, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and the agent for ace CC Sabathia will try to complete a new contract this weekend in an effort to prevent the left-hander from becoming a free agent, according to baseball officials with knowledge of the situation.

Sabathia, 31, can opt out of the final four years and $92 million of his current deal. If he were to opt out of his current contract, he would be free to negotiate with all of the major league clubs by the end of next week.

Both sides have their reasons to want to complete a contract as early as possible. The Yankees know that Sabathia is currently irreplaceable. In his three years with the Yankees, he has won 59 games and led them to the 2009 World Series.

If the Yankees were to finish Sabatha's contract sooner than later, it would also allow them to more smoothly execute the rest of their offseason plan.

Last year, the Yankees' winter was held up by Cliff Lee's decision-making process. Lee, ultimately, turned down the Yankees.

Sabathia has grown to love playing in New York. His wife and kids have established roots in their New Jersey community. Sabathia's fondness for the Bronx was such that he considered not using the opt-out clause. Now, at the least, he will use it as leverage.

Sabathia could avoid the drama of free agency and please both side with an agreement before Tuesday's deadline.
Sabathia's current contract -- seven years, $161 million -- is already the largest in pitching history. His average annual value is $23 million, which is second to Lee's $24 million. Lee's current deal is only for five years.

Sabathia's new contract is expected to top Lee's average annual salary. The question that both sides need to fully hash out comes down to the years on the contract.

It would seem likely that Sabathia would want at least a six-year deal in the $150 million-range. If he wanted to go further than that, it could force him to go test free agency and present an offer for the Yankees to match.

But Sabathia has always placed a high importance on winning. Up-and-coming teams like the Washington Nationals or the Toronto Blue Jays could make a high offer, but Sabathia has shown no willingness to want to play in either place. If a team like the Texas Rangers were to be aggressive, then Sabathia may have to consider it. The Rangers were only willing to go to six years and $120 million for Lee last year.

Two weeks ago, Sabathia's agent, Brian Peters, told ESPN's Buster Olney, "We will exhaust all of our efforts to reach a new agreement [with the Yankees]."

Both sides will be talking extensively this weekend and into Monday, if need be, as they try to keep Sabathia in pinstripes.

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.