The Yankees have formulated a proposal to Sabathia that would exceed Johan Santana's $137.5 million, six-year contract with the New York Mets both in total and average.
Asked before Cleveland's game against Utah on Saturday night if he thought the Yankees would win the Sabathia sweepstakes, James smiled and said, "We're gonna get him. Absolutely."
Sabathia went a combined 17-10 for Cleveland and Milwaukee this season after winning the 2007 AL Cy Young Award.
James' attachment to the Yankees has been a controversial subject in Cleveland, a city where baseball's most storied franchise is very unpopular. James was criticized for attending an Indians-Yankees playoff game in Cleveland wearing a Yankees cap during the 2007 postseason.
James, who is under contract for two more seasons, could be facing a decision similar to Sabathia's. The Cavaliers can offer him an extension as early as July 1, 2009. There has long been speculation James will eventually end up in one of the NBA's larger markets. It's been speculated the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets will be among the teams that will make a strong bid to sign James if he hits the market.
James, who grew up in Akron, has deflected talk about his possible free agency and has said repeatedly his goal is to bring Cleveland a championship.