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11/14/08 11:40 PM EST

Yankees make big offer to CC

Hank Steinbrenner confirms interest in Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe

NEW YORK -- The Yankees made a record-breaking six-year, $140 million offer to free-agent starter CC Sabathia on Friday as the first part of their plan to overhaul their starting rotation, Hank Steinbrenner, one of the team's co-chairmen, confirmed.

And offers to pitchers A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe won't be far behind.

Reached at his office in the Yanks' Tampa Bay Spring Training complex, Steinbrenner was asked by the Associated Press if an offer was made to Sabathia.

"Yes," Steinbrenner said. "And we're prepared to make offers to Burnett and Lowe."

Steinbrenner said he felt the Yankees will be successful in the free-agent market.

"I'm starting to become very optimistic," Steinbrenner said. "I think it's going to be mutually beneficial to us and for these particular players that we're after for them to join the Yankees."

Sabathia's lead agent, Greg Genske, did not immediately return a phone message seeking confirmation.

The offer is the largest potential contract in history for a pitcher, topping the six-year, $137.5 million deal signed earlier this year by Johan Santana after he was obtained by the Mets in a trade with the Twins.

Considering the timing of the offer, the Yankees took the first opportunity they could to begin luring one of the game's top left-handed pitchers to New York. Major League teams could not discuss contract details with other clubs' free agents until midnight on Friday, and the Yankees reportedly made their first offer to Sabathia the same day.

Despite Sabathia's stated preference to remain in the National League and to pitch in his home state of California, the Yankees are banking on the hope that they might lure him to New York with a richer contract than any other team can afford.

"New York deserves a champion, and that's part of our mission statement," Yanks general manager Brian Cashman said recently. "Our ownership has always been fantastic in giving us the resources we need to fix what's broken. They'll be there again for us."

Hot Stove

It helps, of course, that when Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano all filed for free agency earlier this month, it gave the Yankees nearly $90 million of payroll flexibility that they didn't have last season. They plugged a hole at first base when they traded for Nick Swisher on Thursday, and so the Yankees could potentially spend the bulk of their extra cash on starting pitchers -- namely Sabathia, Lowe, Burnett or some combination of the three.

Yet even the richest contract offer in history for a starting pitcher might not be enough to lure Sabathia to the Yankees, considering that the Angels, Dodgers and Brewers, among others, have all expressed interest in the game's premier free-agent starter.

One season after winning the American League Cy Young Award in Cleveland, Sabathia produced a 17-10 record in 35 starts split between the Indians and Brewers. After joining the Brewers in a midseason trade, Sabathia finished 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, striking out more than five times as many batters as he walked and throwing seven complete games, three of them shutouts.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.