WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians broke out of Florida camp on Friday with the contractual future of three core players, as well as that of their manager, in limbo. General manager Mark Shapiro told reporters earlier in the day that contract extension negotiations with the agent for ace left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, have ceased and will not resume until after the '07 season. Talks with the agents representing right-hander Jake Westbrook, eligible after '07, and designated hitter Travis Hafner, eligible after '08, are continuing. But Shapiro does not expect them to last deep into the upcoming season.
"With the time frame of us leaving here, we weren't able to get a resolution either way," Shapiro said. "I would not characterize that as being optimistic or pessimistic. It just simply is what it is. We'll continue to talk to them. We will update you when we have conclusion either way." Shapiro will not address manager Eric Wedge's contract situation until after the season. The Indians hold a two-year contract option on Wedge for '08 and '09. His job performance in trying to guide the Indians to a bounce-back season after a 78-84 finish in '06 will go a long way toward determining whether that option is exercised. "What I want to avoid is having this conversation after having a good week or a bad week," Shapiro said. "It's my expectation Eric Wedge will be the manager for a long time, but I'm not going to address his current contract situation until after the season, regardless of what happens during the year." Shapiro emphasized that the communication with Sabathia was positive. But with his free agency two seasons away, the 26-year-old Sabathia is not in a hurry to sign any dotted lines. "He's probably the most problematic of the three [players] to determine the right values going forward," Shapiro said. "He's just so unique because of the age he's going to be heading into free agency and how his performance is trending. We did exchange some concepts and numbers. What was consistent throughout the process was C.C.'s desire to remain here, and his appreciation of the organization and his teammates." Having just signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the Tribe front office through 2012, Shapiro is secure. He said he might have an update on the status of his staff members before the end of the season. Assistant GM Chris Antonetti, farm director Ross Atkins, special assistant to the GM Neal Huntington, director of baseball operations Mike Chernoff and director of player personnel Steve Lubratich are all currently under contract through the '07 season. Assessing camp: Shapiro will leave Florida feeling quite a bit like he did when he arrived. He's comfortable with the Indians' depth of talent overall and nervous about the bullpen.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.