The early returns are in, courtesy of ESPN’s Buster Olney, and as expected the New York Yankees have offered C.C. Sabathia the most money ever offered to a pitcher. It would be ironic if the Yankees signed Sabathia, because last offseason they signed Alex Rodriguez to the richest contract of any player ever (10 years, 275 million).

Anyways, the offer is not specified in exact dollar terms in that link at press time. But it is said to be worth six years and other reports place the total value at 140 million, just over the 137.5 million Johan Santana signed for last spring.

Sabathia is not as good as Santana.

Santana has posted an ERA under 3.07 six times. Sabathia has done the same just once – this past season. Five of Santana’s six seasons under 3.07 came in the American League. But Sabathia’s one season under 3.07 very much needed the help of 130 National League innings.

Sabathia has a reputation of an innings eater. And to his credit, he is pitched a lot of innings the past two seasons (244 innings, including the playoffs, and 251) but outside of that he has topped 200 innings just once in his career. Santana has topped 219 innings in each of the last five seasons or in every season since he was moved into the rotation.

Sabathia is a top notch pitcher, but he is not in Santana’s class.

The other reports from Olney are that the Yankees are also interested in A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe. The report indicates that Burnett has a four-year 54 million dollar offer on the table from the Toronto Blue Jays while Lowe is seeking a five-year deal.

At 35, if Lowe does indeed want five years, the Baltimore Orioles and any rational team can cross him off their list. Burnett is another matter.

The pitcher still represents in an enormous risk having topped 29 starts just three times in his 10 big league seasons. But when healthy he is pretty good at run prevention and he strikes a lot of people out which is always a positive indicator.

If the Orioles could sign him for 54 million over four years, they should do it. But that is about as high as they should go.