CC Sabathia to opt out of his contract at the end of season?

New York Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia talks to the media as the Yankees prepare to take on the Texas Rangers in the ALCS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on October 14, 2010. Game one of the best of seven series will be on October 15, 2010 in Arlington. UPI/Ian Halperin

CC Sabathia has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise after the 2011 season and while it seems unlikely that he would want to leave the Yankees, he told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that anything is possible.

Sabathia has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season and, in the past, he always definitively said he would not use that clause to negotiate another free-agent contract with either the Yankees or another team.

However, Monday, Sabathia did some dancing around the issue and, for the first time, opened the door that he might deploy the opt-out.

In a mass interview with reporters, Sabathia indicated he would not use the opt out without directly saying so, then shut down further inquiry by saying he was concentrating on this season and repeating the phrase, “I’m here.”

But in a one-on-one conversation with The Post afterward, Sabathia was given a few chances to definitively say he would not opt out — as he had previously — and did not. On one occasion he said, “Anything is possible in a contract.” In another, the big lefty said, “Who knows what is possible, but I am not thinking about anything beyond Opening Day.”

Rut-row. It sure sounds like Sabathia is setting himself up for a pay raise at the end of the year – and why wouldn’t he? The Yankees can ill-afford to lose him and would no doubt make him the highest-paid pitcher in the league if he threatened to walk out.

Cliff Lee is now making $25 million a year, so it stands to reason that Sabathia (who makes $23 million per season) wants to be paid at least as much as Lee, if not more. Barring injury or a disastrous season, Sabathia could probably squeeze a couple million more out of the Yankees, who desperately need him to anchor their starting rotation.

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