Saturday’s game was a must-win for the Yankees if they were going to have any chance of staying alive in the division fight. Jaime Garcia was scheduled to make the start, but the Yankees decided to send CC Sabathia to the mound instead. He ended up pitching five and two-thirds scoreless innings. Since Sabathia’s contract expires at the end of the season, that very well might have been his last start in pinstripes. The Yankees should consider bringing him back on a one-year deal.
Sabathia turned 37 in July, but the big lefty doesn’t seem ready to retire yet. He said that the thought did cross his mind when his knee acted up (again) back in August, though. During a start against the Blue Jays, Sabathia was forced to leave the game with severe knee pain. He was afraid that he was done for good, but the MRI showed no new damage, and he was able to return after receiving cortisone and PRP injections. Part of dealing with his knee condition means that Sabathia has to have maintenance injections and wear the bulky knee brace. It sounds like Sabathia is physically able to continue pitching for a few more years if he wants to, so his health shouldn’t prevent the Yankees from bringing him back.
Without Sabathia, the Yankees would need to fill a spot in the rotation (and two spots if Masahiro Tanaka opts out of his contract). The Yankees have once again stated that they are hoping to get the payroll under the luxury tax threshold, so they might not want to spend much on the free agent market. The starting pitchers that top this year’s free agent class are Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. However, the 2018-2019 free agent class is supposed to be incredible, so the Yankees might want to save their pennies and hand out some massive contracts next offseason instead. Furthermore, the Yankees don’t have too many internal starting pitchers that seem ready to join the rotation. Chance Adams is a possibility, but the Yankees will need to have some starting pitching depth anyway.
The only potential snag in bringing Sabathia back might be his paycheck. Sabathia made $25 million in 2017, but that extension was inked in 2011 when he was still throwing 95. There isn’t a team out there that would pay him that amount (or anywhere near it) in 2018. Sabathia will have to be willing to accept a pretty hefty pay cut if he wants to keep pitching. After nine years, he might just want to stay in the Bronx.
Is Sabathia the same ace pitcher that helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009? No, he is not, but that’s okay. It took him a few years to figure out how to pitch with diminished stuff (and a degenerative knee condition), but he has been able to reinvent himself. If the price is right, the Yankees should bring him back in 2018.
Do you think the Yankees should bring Sabathia back for another year?