Indians start contract talks with Sabathia

Updated: February 27, 2007, 7:51 PM ET
Associated Press

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Cleveland Indians have started talks with the agent for C.C. Sabathia on a contract extension.

Starting Pitcher
Cleveland Indians

28 12 11 44 172 3.22

Sabathia is due to make $8.75 million this year and $9 million in 2008. He is eligible for free agency after the 2008 World Series.

He saw Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and other starting pitchers get big contracts during the offseason.

"The market was great for pitching this time," Sabathia said. "We'll see how it goes the next couple of years."

With a 81-56 record, his .591 winning percentage ranks with those of Zito (.585) and Schmidt. Sabathia will be 28 in 2008.

"I hope I can stay healthy the next couple years and be in the position those other guys were in this winter," Sabathia said.

The Indians' front office could be facing some other difficult financial decisions in the upcoming months.

Right-hander Jake Westbrook, 44-34 the last three years, can become a free agent after the season. Designated hitter Travis Hafner, who hit 42 homers with 117 RBIs last season despite missing the last 29 games with a broken hand, also can be a free agent after next season.

Considering the Indians' status as a mid-market team, singing all three would seem unlikely.

"That doesn't mean we wouldn't be able to get something done in the offseason with any of the three or next year with C.C. and Travis," general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Shapiro has talked to agents for Westbrook and Hafner. It's been Shapiro's policy to suspend contract talks if a deal can't be completed during spring training.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press