The Yankees have made starting pitching their top priority this offseason, and are prepared to open the checkbook in a big way, rushing to offer Sabathia a six-year deal pegged between $140 and $145 million last Friday. With no response to date, Steinbrenner offered a gentle nudge.
"We've made him an offer. It's not going to be there forever," Steinbrenner said Thursday in New York, after he was approved as the Yankees' new controlling owner during a meeting at Major League Baseball headquarters.
Besides the Yankees, only the Brewers are known to have made Sabathia an offer, though he has at least drawn consideration from five other clubs. In addition to the Brewers, the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox and Giants have all been rumored to at least have considered a deal, if not made an actual offer to Sabathia.
The California-born Sabathia is said to favor both the National League and the West Coast, two factors that the Yankees' early pounce looked to topple by setting the financial bar high. If he accepts the Yankees' proposal, Sabathia's windfall would surpass the six-year, $137.5 million contract that Johan Santana inked with the Mets last year.
Earlier this week, manager Joe Girardi took an optimistic stance regarding Sabathia, but said that he was not sure if the club might land its top target by Thanksgiving.
"I don't know," Girardi said. "I know players like to have, a lot of times, things get done before the holidays get here, so they know exactly where they're going and they have an opportunity to find a place to live. I'm hoping things get done sooner than later, but sometimes players have a hard time making up their minds."
In addition to Sabathia, the pitching-hungry Yankees are also discussing the parameters of offers to A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, hoping to acquire at least two of the three, including Sabathia. General manager Brian Cashman said Thursday that he had "no updates" to offer regarding potential free agent pursuits.
New York's starting rotation is currently comprised of only Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain as guaranteed members. Mike Mussina's retirement on Thursday increases the likelihood that New York will re-sign left-hander Andy Pettitte, though the Yankees would prefer to sign him for less than the $16 million he earned in each of the past two seasons.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.