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What recession? Not with CC Sabathia (or Mark Teixeira)

December 10, 2008 | 12:10 pm

Baseball salaries escalated wildly in the winter of 2000-01, when four players -- Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez and Todd Helton -- signed contracts worth a total of $742 million.

Rodriguez got $252 million, Jeter $189 million, Ramirez $160 million and Helton $141.5 million. And then baseball found religion, and it took six years before such riches again were guaranteed.

But we are about to have another big four in contracts: The Yankees signed Rodriguez to a $275 million deal last year, and they have agreed to a $160-million contract with CC Sabathia. The Tigers signed Miguel Cabrera for $153 million last year, and Mark Teixeira is expected to earn at least as much whenever he signs, whether with the Angels, Red Sox, Orioles or Nationals.

That's another $742 million -- or more.

-- Bill Shaikin