CC Sabathia’s new contract with the Yankees includes three different clauses – all related to the condition of his left shoulder - that would prevent his vesting option for 2017 from becoming guaranteed.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declined to elaborate Wednesday on why the team insisted upon such clauses, but said that Sabathia is “100 percent healthy” right now.
“As you move out and go forward, the risks are the risks,” Cashman said, referring to the latter years of Sabathia’s five-year, $122 millon contract. “You have to cover and protect yourself.”
The Phillies did the same thing with free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee last offseason, attaching even greater contingencies to the vesting option on his five-year, $120 million contract.
Lee’s $27.5 million option for ’16 will vest only if he is not on the DL at the end of ’15 with an injury to his left elbow or left shoulder and pitches either 200 innings in ’15 or 400 combined in ’14 and ’15.
Sabathia’s $25 million vesting option for ’17, on the other hand, will become guaranteed as long as he meets three conditions, none of which are related to his innings totals.
The additional year will kick in if Sabathia:
*Does not finish ’16 on the DL because of a left-shoulder injury.
*Does not spend more than 45 days of ’16 on the DL with a left-shoulder injury.
*Does not make six or more relief appearances in ’16 due to a left-shoulder injury.
The contingencies clearly indicate that the Yankees harbor concern about the future condition of Sabathia’s shoulder. Still, those concerns apparently run only so deep.
If the Yankees feared that Sabathia was about to break down, they would have not have signed him to an extension, allowing him to exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent instead.