CC leaves door open for possible exit

New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia Monday refused to rule out the possibility that he could opt out of his contract after this season.

Sabathia, 30, signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Bronx Bombers after the 2008 season.

The record deal contained an opt-out clause after the third year, meaning the 2007 Cy Young Award winner could test the free-agent market again next winter. He has consistently said that he would not seek a new contract after the 2011 season.

But on Monday at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., Sabathia refused to definitively say that he would not opt out of the final four years.

After only repeating the phrase "I’m here" when asked by reporters about his contract, Sabathia told the Post, "who knows what is possible, but I am not thinking about anything beyond Opening Day."

"Anything is possible in a contract," he added.

A Yankees official responded by telling the Post, "we wouldn’t expect him to say anything else."

Sabathia’s contract was the richest ever for a pitcher, but fellow lefty Cliff Lee’s new contract with the Phillies exceeds Sabathia’s in terms of annual salary at $25 million.

So Sabathia, who says he lost 25 pounds in the offseason, could attempt to squeeze the Yankees for an increase in his annual pay depending on his 2011 performance.

The four-time All-Star went 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA last season, striking out 197 batters to finish third in the AL Cy Young Award vote.