Could Possible Resurrection of Sabathia Lead to Extension?


The New York Yankees have proven to be one of the most dominant sport franchises in the world, and part of that justification has been their continuous legacy of winning. How have they remained consistent? Due to blockbuster front office moves, the Yankees have been known to acquire more than a few household names over the years. One name in particular happens to be starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia.

Back in December of 2008, the world of baseball was shocked when it was revealed that Sabathia was choosing to leave the Milwaukee Brewers for the “Evil Empire”. In a deal that was set for seven years, and worth a total of $161 million, this was known as the biggest contract for a pitcher in the history of the MLB. In a starting rotation that already contained seasoned veterans Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett, most believed that the Yankees would run the table in the AL East for years to come.

Through his debut season in the Bronx, his dreams of winning a World Series became a reality. Finishing the regular season with a starting record of 19-8, as well as maintaining an ERA of 3.37, Sabathia was able to secure his first World Series ring at the age of 28 with the Yankees.

After pitching 230 total innings in 2009, most expected for Sabathia’s numbers to regress. In reality, his statistics only continued to skyrocket. With two more wins and one less loss, Sabathia was able to end the 2010 season with a total of 237.2 innings pitched. Even with all of his success, Sabathia and the Yankees were eventually knocked out by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, losing the hard-fought series 4-2.

Over the course of the 2011-2013 seasons, Sabathia continued to provide consistency for the ball club. Containing a win-loss percentage above .500 annually, he was seemingly worth every penny the Bronx Bombers were handing him on a year-to-year basis.

Glancing back at the 2014 season, Yankees fans then went from rooting on the six-time All-Star, to dreading his presence. In May of 2014, it was revealed by General Manager Brian Cashman that Sabathia contained a “degenerative condition within his left knee”. Due to his injury, Sabathia was limited to a mere 46 innings that year. This was the first time in his career that the starting pitcher was subjected to less than 120 innings over the course of a regular season.

With an additional groin injury on his resume, Sabathia became viewed as one of the most overpaid players in the MLB in both 2015 and 2016. Spending constant time on the DL, his numbers were quickly on the decline. In fact, the 28 home runs Sabathia let up in the 2015 season was tied for the most in his everlasting career (he also let up 28 in 2013).

There were multiple rumors and reports surfacing about the Yankees releasing Sabathia at one point in time, which should speak volumes, considering his cap space hit places him as the ninth-highest paid player in the league today.

While most expected a move regarding Sabathia on the horizon, I’m sure that no one expected an oddly-timed resurrection from the 36-year old. Starting off the 2017 season with a starting record of 9-3, Sabathia has evidently become one of the franchises more reliable starters.

While he may have less innings pitched than Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and even Jordan Montgomery, the fact that the Yankees are placing Sabathia’s health as a priority is quite intelligent. Sabathia has yet to secure an ending ERA below 3.90 since the 2012 campaign, but if he continues to preform at a consistent level, he could very well reach below that mark.

The franchise has been in serious talks with the Oakland Athletics in terms of adding starting pitcher Sonny Gray in the last several weeks, and in order to keep the Yankees rotation healthy and functioning, I’m all for a potential deal between the two sides to be executed. With Michael Pineda undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Yankees need all the support they can receive on the mound.

This miraculous campaign by Sabathia has left a jaw-dropping effect on the MLB world, but would you sign Sabathia to an extension? Set to become an unrestricted free agent by the end of the season, this debate will surely be ongoing for months to come. On one hand, Sabathia has been a mentor to the upcoming pitching prospects, and if can remain somewhat healthy, Sabathia is valuable for anywhere between 4-6 innings per start.

On the other hand, how likely is it that Sabathia can remain on the mound for 100+ innings in the next few years? While he has provided a lot of service to the franchise, and has even gone on record to desire to retire with the Yankees, everyone knows that the MLB is purely a business.

The Yankees will surely have a difficult decision on their distant horizon, as they are continuing to fight for first place within the AL East.

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