It feels like forever since the Yankees brought in the mega-sized free agent class that would lead them to the 2009 World Series championship. CC Sabathia brilliantly led the rotation, serving as an ace in every sense of the word. Sabathia’s time in New York sense then has been a bit up and down, as well as hampered by injury. Is there space for him going forward?
Whether or not Sabathia would even be physically able to pitch in 2018 was a question that has lingered over the past couple of seasons. A degenerative knee condition has threatened the duration of Sabathia’s career, and the surgical “tune ups” he’s needed to keep going have started to become commonplace.
Sabathia has stated that he wants to pitch in 2018, however, which leaves his return to New York up to Brian Cashman and co. CC was good for 148.2 innings in 2017, pitching to a 3.69 ERA with a 4.49 FIP. He shined all season in playing the stopper for the team, coming through in a big way after a team loss. That was highly evident in the postseason when he came up big on multiple occasions.
The Yankees already have Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery on the team for next season. They will undoubtedly be pursuing Shohei Ohtani in the coming weeks as well. Chance Adams could find his way into the rotation at some point during the season. Does that leave room for Sabathia?
It likely depends on what Sabathia wants. If he is looking for a guaranteed spot in the rotation, the Yankees might not be the best fit for him, especially if they land Ohtani. If Sabathia feels like he could be flexible in his role, being willing to pitch out of the bullpen when necessary, then there could be a match there.
Sabathia’s days as a starting pitcher may be numbered if for no reason other than his knees simply not being able to withstand the grind of a 162-game season. For that reason, it’s possible that he knows what his limitations are and would be willing to accept a diminished role. If so, there’s really no reason why the Yankees should be unwilling to bring him back. You really can’t ever have too much starting pitching.