CC Sabathia's future with the New York Yankees

As I sat down to write this piece on Friday night, CC Sabathia had just put the Yankees on his back in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Cleveland, outdueling Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber.  The Yankees held an 8-3 lead and looked well on their way to pulling out a massive win on the road and gaining control against the heavily favored Indians.  You had the sense that Sabathia had much still to give and that he would assuredly take the mound again for the Yankees in 2017.

Fast forward an hour or so, and it all fell apart.  After a questionably quick hook from Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi, the vaunted New York bullpen coughed up the five-run lead and the Yankees ultimately fell in 13 innings by a score of 9-8.  The season was on the brink, and serious questions arose whether CC would ever pitch again as a member of the Yankees.

Photo Credit: David Dermer/AP Photo

On the heels of last night’s crucial 1-0 win at home against the Indians, the Yankees have life.  If Luis Severino can do his part tonight and the New York offense heats up against Game One starter Trevor Bauer, pitching on three days rest for the first time in his career, the Yankees will have forced a decisive Game Five back in Cleveland.  Sabathia should be the one to get the ball in the do-or-die game should it get there.

Even in the event of a defeat tonight, CC Sabathia has hopefully not thrown his last pitch as a New York Yankee.  Coming into this season expectations were tempered for what Sabathia would be able to give in his age-36 (37 in July) season, the last year of his contract with New York.  Pitching on a balky knee, and having to redevelop himself, no longer able to touch 95+ on the radar gun, Sabathia was a huge question mark in the New York rotation.  CC went just 9-12 in 2016 but kept his ERA under 4.00 for the first time since 2012.  After working with former Yankee Andy Pettitte in Spring Training, Sabathia was learning to pitch more to location and soft contact, no longer able to blow away hitters with the heat he once possessed.

To the surprise of most Yankees fans, Sabathia was a rock for the Bronx Bombers in 2017.  Despite two separate short DL stints, Sabathia managed to rack up 14 wins, going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA, a .246 BAA and 1.27 WHIP.  He was everything the Yankees could have asked for and more, and I’m finding it hard to convince myself he won't ever again don the famed Yankees Pinstripes.

With only three guaranteed rotation spots for next season filled in Luis Severino, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery (Masahiro Tanaka can opt-out of his deal at season’s end), the Yankees have a need for a back-end rotation piece and keeping Sabathia on a string of one-year commitments until he can no longer be effective makes sense for the Yankees.  Per FanRag’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees are willing to bring Sabathia back on a one-year deal, somewhere in the eight-to-ten million dollar range.

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/AP Photo

Yankees fans love the big lefty, and more importantly, so does the young Yankees core.  Sabathia, along with Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday, is the unquestionable veteran leader of this team in addition to the value he provides on the mound.  I, for one, would love to see CC back in pinstripes in 2018 and potentially even 2019.  Basically, keep signing him to one-year deals until the wheels fall off or he decides to call it quits.

A few seasons ago, it looked like the beginning of the end for Sabathia.  His velocity had failed him, his knee looked like it wouldn’t hold up, and in 2015 he left the team just before the postseason to tackle an alcohol addiction.  It appeared to be a somber end for one of the most beloved Yankees. But just two years later, CC is back with a vengeance and I can’t help but believe that his tenure with the Yankees is not yet complete.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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