The New York Yankees confirmed Wednesday morning that starting pitcher CC Sabathia has been brought back to the Bronx. The veteran lefty will make $8-million with no incentives in what he has announced will be his final big league season, marking it his eleventh season in pinstripes and nineteenth overall.
Sabathia was reportedly set to have multiple suitors, but elected to take a discounted deal to remain in New York. The 38-year-old was good, but inconsistent this past season. In 29 starts, Sabathia had a 3.65 ERA, throwing just 153.0 innings, however, an average of just over 5.1 innings per start. He ended up starting the final game of the Yankees season, taking the loss in Game 4 of the American League Divisional Series.
Rumors have been spiraling over the past few days of the Yankees acquiring stars like Corey Kluber, James Paxton, or Carlos Carrasco through trade, and them going after Patrick Corbin in addition to others in free agency. A large amount of Yankee fans expressed their frustration with the CC signing, thinking it was telling that the Yankees wouldn’t be in on the elite starters that they so obviously need. Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman lifted these fears yesterday before the Sabathia news broke, saying, “Obviously we’d love to bring back CC if we can, and then add multiples past that.”
CC joins Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka as the only returners from last year’s rotation. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees view Sabathia’s role at the moment. With so much pitching on both the trade and free agent markets, the Yankees could very realistically get three more starters (Kluber, Corbin, J.A. Happ?). If the Yankees view CC as their penciled in 5th starter, which a 3.65 ERA is not too shabby for, they will decide against more than the two starters needed to fill out the rotation. If however, the Yankees like CC, but still want him to fight with others for the rotation spot, they could bring someone along the lines of Happ or Hyun-Jin Ryu to compete for the role, with the loser going to the bullpen.
Whether or not Sabathia is going to get the ball every fifth day, his presence in the clubhouse is undeniable. He is such a leader for this team that he sacrificed a $500K bonus to retaliate against the Tampa Bay Rays for throwing at catcher Austin Romine’s head. The incident led to his five-game suspension that will begin next season. If that isn’t the definition of a leader, what is?
If CC can give the Yankees five or six strong innings this season like he did last year, that’s fine for a fifth starter. Combined with his presence in the clubhouse, $8-million could end up as a bargain for the Bombers.