Yanks loading up for more

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

LAS VEGAS -- The imposing New York Yankees pinstripes are a lot more imposing and a lot wider today.

After red-shirting the 2007-08 off-season, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman locked up the top winter pitching prize in Carsten Charles Sabathia yesterday for a seven-year, $161-million US deal.

Otherwise known as CC, Sabathia is the prime lefty that the Yanks missed out on a year ago, sitting on the trade sidelines as Johan Santana landed across town with the New York Mets.

And the bad news for the rest of the baseball is that Cashman and his cash box are not done yet.

The Yanks are battling ...

- The Atlanta Braves for the services of A.J. Burnett. The Braves have a four-year deal in place with a fifth year an attainable option worth $80 million. The Yanks, meanwhile, have made him a five-year, $91-million offer.

- The Red Sox for right-hander Derek Lowe. The Yanks have made a four-year, $60-million offer.

- The Dodgers and the Bosox for lefty Andy Pettitte.

- And Barry Axelrod, who represents San Diego Padres right-hander Jake Peavy, said coming into the meetings that the Yanks would be a more attractive landing spot for his client to approve a trade -- if Sabathia also landed there.

Now, before you start holding your breath and stomping your feet, before you email how the industry and the game -- not to mention your day -- is ruined, let us consider for a second:

That the Yanks missed post-season play in October while winning 89 games, one more than the Minnesota Twins.

That the Yanks have not won a World Series since 2000, which means there are 8-year-olds around Long Island, Glen's Cove and Poughkeepsie who have never seen the Yanks, the most successful franchise in sport, win a title.

It's good for baseball when the Yanks rule the world. At least that's what New Yorkers tell us.

As the saying goes: One third of baseball owners want the Yanks as a dynasty as it is good for the game. The next third don't want them to win a game. And the final third can't make up its mind.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston had made up his mind, saying: "I was hoping Sabathia would sign with San Francisco. Now, I hope Manny Ramirez re-signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers."

Gaston can hope, but his neighbourhood -- the American League East -- got a lot tougher yesterday and it will be some time before it gets easier, what with the Red Sox courting first baseman Mark Teixeira and Burnett and the young Tampa Bay Rays a year older and wiser.

The Yanks have extra money with Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina, Kyle Farnsworth and, maybe, Pettitte off the books from 2008.

Sabathia had signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Hawaii before the Indians made him their first round pick -- 20th overall -- in 1998.

Earlier this week, Sabathia wanted to sign with a West Coast team. One by one, the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels (also chasing Teixeira) dropped out on Sabathia, even after the 311-pounder called Dodgers GM Ned Colletti with his "make me a Dodger" call.

The Yanks made the initial six-year, $140-million offer on Nov. 14, while Sabathia's second-best offer was a $100-million deal from the Milwaukee Brewers.

The signing of Sabathia, who has an opt-out clause after three years in case his wife and family do not like New York, brings to mind the Yanks landing Catfish Hunter Dec. 31, 1974. The best free-agent arm went to the team with the most riches.

Sabathia turns 28 in July after going 6-8 with the Cleveland Indians, but 11-2 with Milwaukee.

Hunter was 29, coming off a 25-12 season with the Oakland A's.

The 1975 Yanks finished 12 games out in third place behind Boston and Baltimore.

On the move

The Mets arrived without a closer and will leave with two. After inking free-agent Francisco Rodriguez, they added J.J. Putz from Seattle in a three-way deal to be their setup man. The Mets also get outfielder Jeremy Reed and reliever Sean Green from Seattle; the M's wind up with reliever Aaron Heilman, outfielder Endy Chavez and first baseman Mike Carp from the Mets along with Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians and minor-leaguers. The Indians get reliever Joe Smith from the Mets and infielder Luis Valbuena from Seattle. ... The Tigers acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson from Tampa Bay for outfielder Matt Joyce.


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