Reigning Cy Young winner Sabathia traded
Vail, CO Colorado
MILWAUKEE ” Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia was traded Monday from the Cleveland Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects.
Sabathia, eligible for free agency after the season, went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA last season and gives the Brewers another power pitcher to pair with Ben Sheets as Milwaukee tries to make the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
“I’d say we’re going for it,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
Sabathia is the first reigning Cy Young winner to be traded since Roger Clemens was dealt to the New York Yankees after winning the award with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998 ” a sign of surrender by Cleveland that hardly anyone would have imagined going into the season.
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said the team’s string of injuries and disappointing performances made it hard to imagine a significant rally in the second half.
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“We all headed into this season with what feel are well-founded expectations for a championship-contending season,” Shapiro said. “Four core players on the DL ” tough for almost any franchise to overcome ” as well as disappointing performances from many components of our team, most noticeably in the bullpen, leave us at the juncture we’re at. There wasn’t much doubt or question in our mind that it was nearly impossible for us to become a contending club this year.”
Sabathia was scheduled to arrive in Milwaukee before Monday night’s game against Colorado and to pitch against the Rockies on Tuesday night. He also is expected to pitch against Cincinnati on Sunday, giving him a pair of starts for his new team at home leading into the All-Star break.
“We’re trying to get four starts out of him before the break,” Melvin joked. “But we’ll settle for two.”
Milwaukee sent Cleveland left fielder Matt LaPorta, pitchers Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson and a player to be named.
Melvin said the Brewers’ strong farm system gave him flexibility to deal away a good prospect.
“Matt LaPorta is going to be a good big league player, and I hope he is,” Melvin said.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said the acquisition of Sabathia will push the team’s payroll past $90 million this season. Attanasio said the move might prevent the club from turning a profit this year, but it was made possible by increased fan support and sound financial decisions in recent years.
“We’d always love to go for it,” Attanasio said. “But you can go for it in a stupid fashion, and Doug and his group have never done that.”
Sabathia had a slow start but is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA. Cleveland scored two runs or fewer in 11 of his 18 starts.
Milwaukee’s starting pitching has been thin ever since Yovani Gallardo went on the disabled list on May 2 with a torn knee ligament that required surgery. His rehab was supposed to take four months, which gives him an outside chance of returning before the end of the season.
Sheets (10-2, 2.77 ERA) is off to the best start of his career, but the All-Star righty is in the final year of a $38.5 million, four-year contract and hasn’t wanted to talk about his upcoming free agency.
Milwaukee, which hasn’t been in the postseason since Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, fell two games short of the division title last year. The Brewers began Monday a percentage point ahead of St. Louis for the second-best record in the NL, and both teams are chasing the Chicago Cubs, who are 31/2 games ahead.
The Indians, who fell one win shy of the World Series last year, are in need of power-hitting corner outfielders and LaPorta is expected to fill that void. He hit .288 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Huntsville.
Sabathia rejected a $72 million, four-year extension from the Indians during spring training and announced he wouldn’t negotiate until after the season.
“C.C. made it clear that once the season started he did not want to entertain any negotiations,” Shapiro said. “Our exploration of a contract was thorough enough in spring training to understand the combination of our capabilities and C.C.’s expectations didn’t align.”
Cleveland has seen Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle leave in free agency.
Associated Press Writer Joe Milicia in Cleveland contributed to this report.