Broken by Joel Sherman (see below) and now reported by numerous news outlets, C.C. Sabathia will be returning to the Yankees on a one year deal worth eight million dollars.
Here is my quick take:
How can a Yankees fan not love C.C. Sabathia? He is a leader on the team. He is a champion who will do whatever it takes to win. He has guts and moxie. Young teams need solid veterans and leadership. Sabathia brings all of that. It seems that everyone around the team (and baseball in general) loves C.C. Sabathia. He is a player who brings a championship presence to the team. For the clubhouse, this is a no-brainer.
In 2019, Sabathia will be chasing a few milestones. These include his 250th win (he is at 246) and his 3,000th strikeout (he has 2,986). These are huge numbers that will help solidify his Hall-of-Fame chances. With these accomplished, it can be said that many of C.C.’s biggest career moments came as a Yankee. It will be fun to watch Sabathia chase and attain these goals.
Believe it or not, 2019 will be Sabathia’s eleventh as a Yankee. He spend eight with the Cleveland Indians, and part of one season with the Milwaukee Brewers. When he goes into the Hall-of-Fame, it will be as a Yankee. With two wins in 2019, C.C. will tie Allie Reynolds for 10th place (with 131 wins) on the All-Time Yankees pitching wins list.
While C.C. Sabathia has been a great Yankee, and while the Yankees need pitching in 2019, I’m not in love with the move from a pure “he makes the team better” perspective. If Sabathia is the fifth starter, on a staff headlined by one or two other big pitchers (Patrick Corbin and Corey Kluber, for example), the deal makes sense. If, on the other hand, the Yankees do not acquire some anchors at the top of the rotation, this deal makes less sense. My trouble with C.C. Sabathia is that he has become, most days, nothing more than a five inning pitcher. In 2019, he averaged just 5.27 innings per start. Sabathia also usually has one or two trips to the Disabled List. All of this puts a tremendous burden on the rest of the staff - especially with the shorter starts, on the bullpen. I am concerned that without some big name starters at the top of the rotation, C.C. Sabathia is a luxury that the Yankees can’t afford, but I am going to be optimistic on this deal. If this is part of a bigger plan to address the top of the rotation, I’m good with it. If the Yankees expect Sabathia to be anything more than a fifth starter, who will miss time during the season, this deal will not help put them over the top. In short, we have to see how the rest of the off-season plays out before determining if this deal helps or hurts the team. I know the Yankees wanted to “do right” for Sabathia and they wanted to wrap this up quickly. I wish they had addressed the top of the rotation first, but I am optimistic that they will and that this is just a piece of the puzzle.