The history of Alex Rodriguez had everyone on edge about CC Sabathia's opt-out clause.
When A-Rod opted out of his contract after the 2007 season, he did it in the worst possible fashion (the middle of a World Series game) and he held the Yankees up for every dime he could squeeze out of them because he knew they were desperate to keep him in the Bronx.
The end result was a 10-year contract that might one day lead to Occupy River Avenue protests because it is such a profligate way to spend money.
There were fears that things would play out similarly with Sabathia because the Yankees need him right now even more than they needed A-Rod back then.
With the open market looming, it wasn't hard to find people suggesting Sabathia would tear up his existing contract and start from scratch in a bid to get seven years and as much money as you could possibly get.
Through it all, Sabathia said that he wanted to stay in New York and suggested more than once that he wasn't even going to opt out. He'd get something for not opting out, of course, but he insisted playing for the Yankees meant more to him than wringing out every last dollar.
In the end, he was true to his word. He wound up getting another year, at least, and $30 million, at least, but he said that being in New York was significant to him and he never got to a point where it was possible that he would leave.
That seems more surprising than it should be, but such is the world we call home. Everyone always plays the "Thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee" game when they first arrive on the team, but that usually fades out over time.
It didn't for Sabathia, something that should only make him more popular once he steps back onto the mound in the Bronx. It wasn't an entirely magnanimous gesture, obviously, but the extra money matters much less than the fact that Sabathia never got to a point where he was soliciting offers from other teams.
The final deal adds one year at $25 million on top of his current four-year, $92 million deal with an option -- which vests as long as Sabathia doesn't suffer a shoulder injury in 2016 -- for a sixth year at $25 million or a $5 million buyout. That's not charity, but given the alternative it is hard to fault the Yankees for making Sabathia the pitcher with the highest average annual salary in baseball history.
When you put the entire contract together, it will cost them a little more than they were offering Cliff Lee a year ago and, for all Lee's charms, Sabathia has a longer track record of success than the Phillies lefty. Sabathia is also two years younger than Lee and they've already gotten three very good years from Sabathia, making the extra cash pretty easy to swallow when all is said and done.
They would have saved some money a few years from now by letting Sabathia go, but what were they going to do with the $23 million they lopped off the payroll right now? Sign C.J. Wilson off of a terrible postseason or take a flier on the Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish?
The Yankees needed Sabathia so they paid him for his services without raising a fuss about a clause they gave him. Sabathia didn't make them pay anything more than was reasonable given his leverage in the situation.
That's a pretty good way of doing business on both sides and it means the Yankees have finished the biggest item on their offseason to-do list before the offseason really got rolling.