LAS VEGAS -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman flew up to the Bay Area to meet Tuesday with top free-agent pitching target CC Sabathia amid growing optimism that the Yankees might yet win the battle for the superstar southpaw.
The Cashman-Sabathia confab made it three straight days of meetings for the two men, which has to be seen as a promising sign that Sabathia is at least giving serious consideration to becoming a Yankee.
New York actually was locked in talks most of Tuesday with three free-agent pitching targets -- Sabathia, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett.
The Yankees appear to have a good chance for Lowe, as they were making a bold move Tuesday to outbid the Phillies and lure the consistent and durable ex-Red Sox pitcher with a proposal thought to be at least $64 million over four years.
That's not such a surprise since Lowe reportedly has been craving to get back into the intensity of East Coast baseball after four pleasant seasons with the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
However, the most interesting development involved the continued talks with Sabathia, previously seen as a California dreamer who's been slow to accept the Yankees' market-setting $140 million, six-year offer. The lefty has also been weighing a bid from the Brewers and awaiting word from his preferred California teams.
Cashman also spent a good part of the day on the phone with Yankees ownership talking over the financial implications. The upshot appears to be that they will attempt to sign all three of their top starting pitching targets, an outlay would could approach $300 million. About a half-dozen teams are vying for the talented Burnett, but the Yankees topped the Braves' $60 million, four-year offer that included a vesting option for a fifth year by a few million dollars and they might also consider guaranteeing a fifth year.
Should the Yankees fail to land one or two or three of their top targets, they'd consider two more free-agent pitchers, Ben Sheets and Oliver Perez, in what is an excellent overall pitching market. Since it's not likely they'll go three-for-three, Sheets and/or Perez may well come into play.
Cashman spent a good part of Tuesday in discussions with Sabathia's agent, Greg Genske, after meeting two straight days in Las Vegas with Sabathia himself. Sabathia had given the Yankees reason to worry in those meetings by asking numerous questions that suggested some concern about how his family of five would fit into New York. But by Tuesday, with Cashman and Genske continuing to talk, and Cashman en route to see Sabathia, things looked slightly more promising.
The Brewers remained in the ballgame and are believed willing to get close to $120 million over six years for Sabathia (though deferred monies make the deal worth closer to $110 million). However, the Sabathia sweepstakes still do not include any California entries, with only the Giants as a realistic possibility (and they would be unlikely to get anywhere near the Yankees' stratosphere).
There's no evidence the Dodgers, who have multiple needs, are ready to make a real play for Sabathia. Meanwhile, Angels owner Arte Moreno made clear in an interview with SI.com here Tuesday night that they are totally focused on star free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira and not even thinking about a play for Sabathia.
"I wouldn't say we're in the Sabathia picture at all,'' Moreno said. "We have four pitchers, and we're not getting into a long drawn-out process. He has a very good offer on the table (from the Yankees). We're not in that ballpark.''