LAS VEGAS — CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees were close to agreement today on a $160 million, seven-year contract after general manager Brian Cashman dashed off to California to meet with the pitcher and his wife.
Hours after the New York Mets reached a preliminary deal on a $37 million, three-year contract with closer Francisco Rodriguez, Cashman left Las Vegas and traveled to the San Francisco area Tuesday to meet with Sabathia for the third straight day.
"He would look good in pinstripes," manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees and the pitcher's agents had not yet reached a letter of agreement, a baseball official familiar with the talks said, speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because a deal had not been completed. The official said the Yankees were confident that would soon happen.
The Yankees are notorious sticklers for establishing contract-guarantee language before acknowledging an agreement is in place. Any agreement would be subject to the 28-year-old left-hander passing a physical.
The crosstown Mets already made a free-agent splash by landing Francisco Rodriguez, and fellow reliever Kerry Wood was close to a deal with the Cleveland Indians.
K-Rod became the first top-tier free agent to pick a team when he decided to join the Mets, desperate for bullpen help. Coming off a record 62 saves for the Los Angeles Angels, Rodriguez reached a preliminary agreement early Tuesday on a $37 million, three-year contract with New York.
The sides still have to work out a written agreement and the pitcher must pass a physical, two people familiar with the negotiations said. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been completed.
"He got a terrific deal from the Mets and he's going to do a great job for them," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got great postseason experience. I don't know that I've met a guy mentally as tough as Francisco on the mound. ... The offers that were made to Francisco over the last couple years obviously were not the ones that he was looking for to stay here with the Angels."
Rodriguez's deal with New York is unlikely to be completed before next week.
"The way that we lost so many close games late, I think that was critical for us to — theoretically — address this thing here. We have addressed it very well," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said, laughing. "I mean, they say the word on the street is good. It's good. That's just the word on the street. We've got to get it written down."
Cleveland was on the verge of a two-year contract with Wood, the former Chicago Cubs starter-turned-reliever, a person familiar with that deal said on condition of anonymity because the sides still were working through details. Wood, who has had numerous injury problems in the past, also needs to pass a physical before the deal can be set.
The Yankees made a six-year offer to Sabathia on Nov. 14 worth about $140 million and met with him on Sunday and Monday. Cashman's daily briefing with reporters was canceled by the team Tuesday, with spokesman Jason Zillo saying, "Brian is off hotel property and unavailable for the rest of the evening."
Sabathia and his wife have three young children, so family concerns are expected to factor into his decision.
"If we decide that we're going to get involved, we will have a meeting and make our presentation," San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "It hasn't gotten to that point. They're in no hurry. We don't have any expectations. He's certainly playing the field. Why wouldn't we be involved if he's interested? It's as simple as that."
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Sabathia told him he wants to join Los Angeles, and manager Joe Torre said that statement "teases you."
A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe most likely will wait for Sabathia to make a move before striking deals of their own. Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez also could become lengthy negotiations.
"I think everybody's getting frustrated. I think we all thought it but didn't want to say it," Sabean said. "This is as slow as we've ever seen it. It's the lack of real concrete communication.
"It seems the clubs and the agents aren't in a hurry. I don't know if that will pick up before we leave here or next week," he added. "That has nothing to do with being in the venue of Las Vegas. We could be on the moon or in Alaska, that's the way it is."
In the second trade of the four-day session, the Cincinnati Reds acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez and cash from the Baltimore Orioles for utilityman Ryan Freel and two minor leaguers.
The Dodgers completed a $17.5 million, three-year contract with third baseman Casey Blake and reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with infielder Mark Loretta, pending a physical.
The Yankees also spoke with the agents for Burnett, saying they were prepared to exceed $60 million over four years, and they examined the medical records of pitcher Ben Sheets.
- World Series champion Philadelphia exercised manager Charlie Manuel's 2010 option and added a guaranteed salary for 2011.
- MLB said it will toughen rules on bat manufacturing for 2009 to reduce broken bats and will double the authorization fee to $10,000 per supplier.
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum, Janie McCauley and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.