But while that's an incredible, unprecedented move for the small-market team, and Sabathia remarked several times during the season how much he liked playing and living in Milwaukee, the Brewers are still viewed as a major long shot in what promises to be a spirited derby.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin this morning confirmed that an offer was made to Sabathia but declined to discuss the dollar figure for the 28-year-old left-hander who went 17-10 with a 2.70 ERA overall and 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA with Milwaukee. Word here is that the proposal was for four or five years and between $20 and $25 million, and quite possibly for $100 million over five years.
"We've given him a proposal,'' Melvin confirmed.
The competition will be stiff. The Yankees, desperately hoping to upgrade their rotation, are expected to make a big play for Sabathia, and at least the Dodgers and Angels are expected to show strong interest in the Vallejo, Calif. native as well. The world champion Phillies could also emerge as a surprise entrant in a derby that's expected to wind up well into the nine figures. He could beat Johan Santana's record $137.5-million Mets contract, though probably not with the Brewers.
Melvin declined to categorize the Brewers' chances but acknowledged the difficulty of any team retaining a major free agent once it gets to this stage.
"I don't remember the last time a club re-signed their own free agent,'' Melvin said. "We have a better opportunity than we would have thought. We probably wouldn't have made an offer for CC if he didn't do what he did for our club and seen what kind of individual he is.''
While everyone agrees Sabathia is a fine person, it still will be difficult to overcome a major dollar deficit. The other 29 teams are disallowed from making offers to Sabathia until 15 days after the World Series ended (Nov. 14), but the Brewers and Sabathia both understand they won't be the high bidder in this derby. The Yankees will most likely be that team.
"We know he liked the experience and he liked some of his (Brewers) teammates,'' Melvin said. "We'll just have to wait to hear from his guy. There are a lot of questions. Is it the right money? Is it where he wants to be?''
The Brewers could also lose a second excellent start starter, Ben Sheets, to free agency, but Melvin said that Sabathia will be their one big free-agent target and that they won't spend the monies targeted for him on another big free-agent pitcher should Sabathia decide to go elsewhere.
"This is probably a special case,'' Melvin said. "It's not like whatever we offer him we'll have left'' to spend on someone else.
"I'm not a big free-agent guy,'' Melvin said, adding with a smile regarding his days as Texas GM, "even though I signed A-Rod.''