CC's Choices

First-time poster Mykenk came up with an illuminating spreadsheet last night in an attempt to compare the current Brewers and Yankees offers that CC Sabathia has on the table.  (Thanks!)  As roguejim pointed out yesterday, we're comparing apples and oranges if we look simply at the total numbers of $100MM and $140MM.

We've talked about this in fits and starts in comment threads, but I wanted to summarize what some of the issues are.  Of course, who knows if Sabathia and his agent are looking at it in this much detail -- they might be as smitten with the extra $40MM as the mainstream media seems to be.

Cost of Living. Depending on to what degree Sabathia wants to engage with his new community, that'll be more expensive in New York.  First and foremost, he'll pay more taxes as a part- or full-time resident of NYC.  If he wants to buy a celeb-style compound for his family, it might take $20MM for such a place on Long Island; for the same amount, he could probably buy Manitowoc.

This is a tough adjustment for us to figure, because we don't know just how much money CC would spend in NY or MKE.  With that caveat, I think the taxes alone would come close to an extra 10% bite on Yankees earnings.  Mykenk's spreadsheet estimates something closer to 15%, which isn't all that far-fetched, either.

So...if we use the 10% number, $140 looks more like $126--a yearly value of just barely more than the Brewers offer.  If we up that to 15%, the Yankees are down to $119, or slightly less on an annualized basis.

Sabathia's Next Contract.  This is the toughest thing to estimate, but it might be the most important.  If CC pitches well for the next five or six years, he'll go back on the market as a premium free agent.  He's now 28, so even if he took a six-year deal, he'd be a FA at age 34.  For comparison, Derek Lowe is 35 (and certainly not the impact player that CC is) and he'll get a pretty nice contract this offseason, if not the "Zito-like" deal that Boras is asking for.

It's well-nigh impossible to guess what CC would be worth in 2013 or 2014, but I think we can agree on one thing: The sooner he goes on the market again, the more valuable he will be at that time.  The flip side: The longer his current deal, the more likely he'll get hurt or lose effectiveness before he sees free agency again.

If I were Sabathia (insert joke here), I'd go for a four- or five-year deal with the highest possible per-year value.  In other words, I'd rather have $100MM over four years ($25MM per year) than $140MM over six (~$23MM per year).  That way, I'd make more money over the next four years, and I'd have a chance to sign another megabucks deal while I was still in my prime.

I'm hesitant to even try to quantify the dollar difference between going back on the market in 2012, 2013, or 2014.  Let's just say that, all else equal, going back on the market in 2012 or 2013 could turn out to be worth more than than going back on the market in 2014 or 2015.

Present Value.  One thing that tends to be ignored in free-agent season is that a dollar right now isn't the same as a dollar in year six.  That's true in the real world, but it's especially true in baseball, where the rate of salary inflation generally outstrips real-world inflation.

Again, Mykenk's spreadsheet gives us some good numbers to work with.  He invents likely backloaded contract schemes -- for the Yankees, an annual salary in a six-year $140MM contract goes from $17MM next year up to $28.4MM in each of the last two years.

But...that $28.4MM isn't really $28.4MM.  That extra year the Yankees have on the table is "only" worth--in 2009 dollars--$22.4MM.  As with the cost-of-living adjustment, that hardly makes it a slam-dunk decision for CC, but it does knock another $1MM per year off of the Yankees offer.

Moot Point?  As you can tell, we're looking at a lot of difficult-to-quantify considerations.  Of course, there are plenty of other issues for CC to consider that are not money-related -- does he want to share a locker room with A-Rod? Is he already sick of hearing about the 1982 Brewers? Are pinstripes slimming? -- not to mention the pressure from the player's union to take the richest, longest deal on the table.

But, if we try to quantify all three of these aspects, as Mykenk did, we get an interesting conclusion--from CC's financial perspective, the Brewers and Yankees offers are basically the same.

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