Well, the New York Yankees made the first big splash at the Winter Meetings. CC Sabathia has been dragged kicking and screaming into the Bronx for what looks like a 7 year, 161 Million Dollar deal, with an opt out clause after 3 years. Those 3 years would be worth approximately 70 million and the total contract would make him MLB's highest paid pitcher. Doug Melvin, Milwaukee Brewers GM, confirms that the Brewers tried and failed to give CC everything he wanted.
What does this mean for the Bronx Bombers, quite a bit! This move solidifies a starting rotation filled with injuries last year. This is basically a 2 for 1 deal, as Chien-Ming Wang will be returning from injury. Throw Joba Chamberlain in the 3rd spot, and the Yankees immediately have a 1-2-3 punch unequaled by many in the American League. Throw in the rookies who have another year, albeit a year of misfortune, under their belts and the Yanks have a solid pitching rotation once again.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, their division rivals, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays (yep they are rivals now folks) are 2 teams that may be able to equal the Yanks starting pitcher for starting pitcher. For Boston, assuming Josh Beckett returns to his 2007, uninjured and slimmed down form, Dice K and Jon Lester combine to absolutely provide the solid outings to match the Yankee rotation. As for the Rays, there is no doubt James Shields, Matt Garza and Scott Kasmir have all learned from their World Series run, and will most likely step their game up another notch in 2009.
Let's remember one thing, the Yankees are likely not done with their rotation. All reports have them closing in on either AJ Burnett or Derek Lowe, either of which would make them a very deep rotation. Does this make them early favorites to take the AL East and contend for the World Series? Maybe. There are far too many chips to fall at this point. Will, as rumored, the Yankees pursue Manny? Will the loss of Giambi and possibly Abreau hurt the offense too much. Will Cano stay put or will they trade him away? Far, far too many questions to be answered to make a solid judgement on where this team stands right now.
Make no doubt about it Red Sox fans, the Yankees have fired the 1st big shot and it has made them better. Will the Red Sox counter, or will they stay the course and hope that the system,choc full of prospects, will be enough to keep them ahead of Yanks for another year? We will see. Stay tuned!