Thank you for your many years of loyalty to and support of the Cleveland Indians. Because you are vitally important to the success of the Indians, I want to communicate the thinking behind our recent player personnel decisions, including our decision to trade CC Sabathia, directly to you.
After keeping the strong nucleus from our 2007 playoff team intact, we all had high expectations entering the '08 season. Unfortunately, the team did not play up to our expectations and we sustained injuries to key players within our starting lineup and rotation. Due to our team's performance, as well as the significant opportunity to add talent that can impact the short-term and long-term success of the organization, we decided to trade CC.
We did not take our decision to trade CC lightly. He has been an integral member of the Indians organization and the Cleveland community for the past eight years. We all shared the pleasure of watching CC develop from a young Draft pick into a mature team leader -- and one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. After re-signing CC in 2005 to a contract that extended into what would have been his first two free agent years, we were able to share in and enjoy his '07 Cy Young Award winning season as a Cleveland Indian, a performance that propelled our club to the AL Central Division Championship.
We made extensive attempts to secure CC's future in Cleveland by signing him to a contract extension. In fact, we offered CC a top of the market contract that included the highest annual salary in the history of the Indians' organization. Unfortunately, due to CC's desire to test the free agent market, we determined that trading CC provided the best outcome for the long-term success of the organization. By trading CC, we capitalized on an opportunity to infuse upper level talent into our organization that can contribute to our on-field success for many years, rather than risk losing CC for only two Draft picks with a distant and uncertain future.
We remain enthusiastic about the steps we have taken towards fulfilling our organizational mission to build and sustain a championship-caliber team. Our Minor League system served as the catalyst for our 2007 playoff run and continues to develop exciting, young players. We look forward to the opportunity of watching many more young players blossom into Major League stars as Cleveland Indians.
We have confidence that the tremendously difficult decision to trade CC will enhance our ability to put a winning club on the field to make our loyal fans and the entire Cleveland community proud. On behalf of my family and the entire Cleveland Indians organization, I appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you at a game in the near future. Go Tribe!