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CC Sabathia reportedly agrees with Yankees in another middle-of-the-night deal

December 10, 2008 |  9:52 am

CC Sabathia LAS VEGAS -- Let's see ... Mets General Manager Omar Minaya gets Francisco Rodriguez to agree to a contract at 5 in the morning several months after firing his manager at about 1 a.m. And now the Yankees and General Manager Brian Cashman land CC Sabathia at 3 a.m.

New York truly is the city that never sleeps -- or at least its general managers don't.

After two days of face-to-face negotiations at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas, Cashman trailed Sabathia back home to San Francisco, where he got the winter's most highly sought player to agree to a contract that will make him the best-paid pitcher in history.

The agreement, which still has a few minor hurdles such as Sabathia's physical to clear before it can be put on paper and signed, could ignite a slow-developing free agent market since many of the big players -- the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Mets -- were reportedly in on the Sabathia sweepstakes. Now, presumably, those teams can allocate that money elsewhere. The Angels, for example, sensing that Sabathia was going elsewhere, had already turned their attention to first baseman Mark Teixeira, while the Dodgers recently held preliminary talks with agent Scott Boras about outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Although the Yankees had started the bidding on Sabathia at six years and $140 million, ESPN is reporting Cashman had to add another season and another $20 million to get the deal done. If true, that would not only eclipse the previous high for a pitcher -- the $137.5 million the Mets gave Johan Santana last winter -- but it would trail only the $275 million and $252 million Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees and Rangers, respectively, and the $189 million the Yankees gave Derek Jeter.

The Yankees, in desperate need of pitching, had made Sabathia their No. 1 target this off-season and were relentless in their pursuit of the 28-year left-hander, the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner who is 117-73 in eight big-league seasons. But his price soared last summer when, after a midseason trade sent him from Cleveland to Milwaukee, Sabathia entered free agency by pitching the Brewers to their first playoff berth since 1982, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA.

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: CC Sabathia doing what he does best in a game three months. Now he will be changing uniforms. Credit: Morry Gash / Associated Press