There is a general sense among many in the baseball media that the Washington Nationals are poised to, at the least, attempt to make a huge spash this offseason. The club took the Winter Meetings by storm in 2010 after coming out of nowhere to sign Jayson Werth to a contract that immediately removed them from the “small market” category, and up until Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies there were many who believed the left-hander would also end up in Washington.
If that wasn’t enough, the Nationals also came within a thumbs up from Zack Greinke to acquiring and extending the former American League Cy Young. Of course, Greinke chose to reject that trade for the Royals, and instead he was shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers where he is currently trying to help them reach the World Series. Nevertheless, with several major deals made, including the signing of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon, general manager Mike Rizzo has proven to the league that he is a major player on the baseball market, and when you factor in the Lerner’s deep pockets, some are waiting anxiously to see what will happen in the next several months.
It’s no surprise then that Washington has already been mentioned to be interested in some of the biggest name free agents on the upcoming market. Even with a log jam at first base some have linked the club to Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Now, Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com has listed the club as potential suitors for C.C. Sabathia.
There is no doubt that a pitcher like Sabathia would be an unbelievable pickup for Washington. He is the type of innings eating superstar starter that would take the team from Wild Card hopefuls, to serious playoff contenders. At 31, he is coming off of another stellar season where he went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 237 innings of work. More importantly, he shows no signs of slowing down.
But while signing Sabathia would make a whole lot of sense for Washington, there are plenty of reasons why it likely wont happen. Here are five.
- Sabathia Likely Doesn’t Want To Leave New York - While the former Cy Young winner technically will be opting out of his contact, few view it as anything more than an opportunity to cash in for an even bigger contract with the Yankees. Under his current deal Sabathia would earn $92 million over the next four years, he almost certainly could get more overall money with a brand new contract now at the age of 31. Sabathia is reportedly comfortable in New York, he just wants more cash.
- The Boston Red Sox Are Desperate - If Boston’s finest weren’t desperate enough after the biggest collapse in baseball history this September, they will likely be prepared to sell the farm to set things right after the scathing Boston Globe article that came out Wednesday. The article depicted the majority of the Red Sox rotation out of shape and lazy, and a major overhaul might be needed. What better way to motivate a distraught fan base than to bring in arguably one of the best five pitchers in the game, who also happens to be their arch rivals’ ace starter.
- Theo Epstein Has A Franchise To Build - One of the most well known, well respected general managers just took a new job in a city that probably needed him most. Theo Epstein is out to break another curse, this one in Chicago, and he has way more work to do than he ever had in Boston. The Cubs are in terrible shape and are in need of a major overhaul. Does Epstein have the swing to bring Sabathia back to the National League? Can he convince the left hander to let Epstein build the new Cubs franchise around him? It’s a possibility, and the Cubs have the deep pockets to make it happen.
- The Yankees Are Desperate, Too - When the Yankees shelled out $35 million to Rafael Soriano last year to be their set up man, the Steinbrenner 2.0 ownership was making a statement. Money would still be no issue. The Yankees failed to reach the ALCS this year and that usually means that the club will seriously reload this offseason to come back even stronger next year. I’d be shocked if they weren’t willing to give Sabathia record type money if he demanded it.
- Let’s Not Forget About The Texas Rangers Here - Before the Philadelphia Phillies blindsided everyone to sign Cliff Lee last winter, the two top contestants to land the hurler were the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers. Texas reportedly really thought they would bring back the lefty when it was said and done, but to their credit they have found themselves back in the ALCS without him. That being said, if they were willing to offer big time money to one elite lefty starter last year, why wouldn’t they be willing to go all-in on C.C. Sabathia this offseason? The signing would instantly catapult them to become the favorites to win the 2012 Series trophy, and the blow to their emerging rival, the New York Yankees, might be more than they could take.