After trading Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs a few days ago, many are wondering who will be next to go, or even if the Yankees plan to sell anyone else at all. They have Carlos Beltran, who seems to be their best chance at getting back more top-flight talent, and Andrew Miller, who they seem to prefer to keep. They even have Ivan Nova, who should net them something, considering the state of the pitching market right now. Aside from them, the roster is comprised mostly of players too young and inexpensive to deal, or too old and costly to be movable. But what about CC Sabathia?
No one expects him to be traded at the deadline this year, but if the Yankees made it clear that he was available, would anyone bite? After several years of his contract wasted as a sunk cost, something as simple as a knee brace turned it all around. While he isn't the ace he used to be, he still might have some value on the open market, even if it's probably not happening. The market for pitching is that bad right now.
We all know how well Sabathia has been since he started pitching with the knee brace for the first time last September. He continued his rejuvenation into this year, pitching to a 2.20 ERA through his start on June 16 against the Twins. Since then he's been beat up quite a bit and owns a 6.70 ERA over his last seven starts. It looked like he had finally fallen back down to earth, but for a nice bounce-back start against the Astros on Tuesday where he allowed only two runs on four hits and two walks in 6.2 innings.
Sure, it's only one game, but if that bad stretch was simply a blip on the radar and he's back to his old/new self, Sabathia could offer a contender something to think about. With the trade deadline due up in just six days, and depending on how they handle today's off-day, the Yankees might be able to squeeze another start out of him.
Of course, considering he's owed a prorated portion of $25 million for the rest of this season, as well as a $25 million option for 2017 that will be picked up as long as his left shoulder stays healthy, CC isn't going anywhere this week. Because of the crazy amount of money still owed to him through next season, he will easily pass through waivers after the deadline and be available to anyone in a trade. The major hold up on any kind of deal would then be how much money the Yankees have to eat on the deal.
No one is going to want to pay anything close to that amount of money, so the Yankees would have to agree to pay a lot of it for this to work out. If that's the case, Hal Steinbrenner would probably just prefer to hold onto him, even if the team would get a better return based directly on how much money they ate. The Padres just traded Melvin Upton and agreed to pay all but $5 million of the $22 million he still has left on his contract, so something close to that is feasible. Then again, these are the Yankees and they aren't that desperate, even if maybe they should be.
There are several different contenders who need pitching in the worst way and someone is bound to lose out come August. It's still very likely that someone gets hurt too, so an August trade might end up being a necessity. The Pittsburgh Pirates easily have the worst rotation out of any contending team with a 4.85 ERA and 4.66 FIP on the season. Taking a look at rotations over the last month, the Texas Rangers have a 7.10 ERA and 5.89 FIP in July, and since they just gave up an actual prospect for Lucas Harrell after only five MLB starts in the last two years, it's easy to see how desperate they might become.
However, the one thing that might make this whole scenario come to a full stop is the fact that CC Sabathia probably won't want to go anywhere. He has a full no-trade clause and he's easily at a place in his career where he just wants to be where he's comfortable and happy living. He's won a ring, has already made millions of dollars, he just went through rehab, and his family has built a life here. Barring some surprising decision, he's not going to approve a trade even if the Yankees come to him and say they want to move him. He has no reason to go anywhere. In the end, this might be what it comes down to–that, and the money–but there's always next year.