WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia has tabled contract talks with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians' pitchers and catchers reported Thursday to spring training in Winter Haven, Fla. The 27-year-old left-hander, who is eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, said on his Web site that he and his agents have broken off negotiations on an extension with the club. The Indians recently had offered Sabathia a four-year extension believed to be worth $17 million to $18 million per season.
On Sabathia's Web site, he posted this message:
"This off season, through my representatives at Legacy Sports Group, I have discussed the possibility of a contract extension with the Cleveland Indians. At this time, we haven't been able to reach agreement. Now that the reporting date for spring training is here, it is time to put aside contract discussions so that I can focus all of my energies and attention on preparing for the upcoming season. I look forward to a successful 2008 season, both for myself and for the Indians as a whole. I will do everything within my power to help the club to its first World Series appearance since 1997 and its first World Series Championship since 1948. There will be time after the season for the Indians and my representatives to discuss my contract status. I remain hopeful that these discussions will result in a contract extension that will keep me with the franchise for many years to come. In the meantime, in order to avoid any distractions, my representatives and I will not make any further comment about my contractual situation beyond this statement."
Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and led the majors with 241 innings in 2007. He is Cleveland's first Cy Young winner since Gaylord Perryin 1972.
Pretty classy, C.C.!
Indians fans, as well as other baseball fans that have taken the time to notice, have watched this talented young man mature and grow into a great ball player and a fine person. He has taken on a leadership role on the team and supports that leadership with consistent star quality performances on the field.
Obviously C.C. feels a strong sense of loyalty to the Cleveland Indians organization as he has made it clear that he would prefer to remain with the Indians. He didn't have to post his comments on his website but there are many, many of us here in the shadows of Progressive Field that are glad he did.
Does he mean it?
You have to believe that he truly does mean what he says. Remember when the Indians struggled after the All-Star break last season? It was C.C. that stepped up into a leadership role and challenged his teammates to win now, all while he guaranteed the Central Division championship in Cleveland.
C.C. could have easily said nothing and reported to spring training, played out the season, and gone the route of free agency. After all, he is a family man and his large family lives near two west coast teams in the California Bay area.
When the season is over, chances are that C.C. may not remain in Cleveland. But after his statement today, C.C. is putting it all on the line for the 2008 season and certainly posturing himself to stay in Cleveland beyond this year.
C.C., thanks for your loyalty and commitment. Best of luck in the 2008 season. The Cleveland Indians organization, like you, has high integrity. I gotta believe your loyalty and commitment will be returned by this organization.