CC Sabathia wants to return to the Yankees, and Yankees should want him back
Sabathia and the Yankees are a perfect fit for each other
HOUSTON -- The 2017 season ended not with a bang, but with a whimper for the New York Yankees. They scored one run total in the final two games of the ALCS and to the Houston Astros on Saturday night. The Astros are heading to the World Series and the Yankees are heading home.
Stalwart left-hander CC Sabathia started Game 7 for the Yankees and did not pitch well. One run in 3 1/3 innings isn't awful, but it's not good either. Sabathia wiggled out of some jams and ultimately allowed five hits and three walks in those 3 1/3 innings. He struck out zero and nearly threw as many balls (29) as strikes (35).
This offseason Sabathia will be a free agent for the second time, and following Game 7, he made it crystal clear he wants to return to New York.
"This is my home. I want to see this thing through," Sabathia said. "I want to come back here and finish things off. This is where I want to be."
On one hand, Sabathia is 37 years old with a degenerative knee condition, and on his best days he might give you six innings. There are reasons for the Yankees to thank him for his nine years and part ways. On the other hand, teams always need pitching, and Sabathia is a leader in the clubhouse. His value goes beyond what he does on the mound.
"He's as good as I've ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you're on a losing streak or that you can count on," said Joe Girardi following Game 7. "Our players can learn a lot from CC. The kind of fighter that he is. The things that he has to overcome to be successful."
As things stand, the Yankees know they'll have Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery in their 2018 rotation. Masahiro Tanaka seems likely to exercise his opt-out clause, and while that doesn't automatically mean he won't return, it's hard to count on that right now. The Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2018 and Tanaka may not fit.
There is an obvious opening at the back of the rotation for Sabathia, and the going rate for veteran innings dudes these days is one year and $10 million to $12 million. That's Bartolo Colon money. The Yankees have room for him under the luxury tax payroll. Easily.
At this point Sabathia is not going to carry a rotation. He's not that type of pitcher anymore. He's a complementary player, not a difference-maker, but teams need those guys too. This is one of those situations where a reunions makes so much sense it'll probably happen before free agency. The Yankees know Sabathia, and Sabathia gets to stay home if he re-signs. And he gets to stay with a young team that figures to contend for years to come. It's a match made in baseball heaven.
"This group is unbelievable. Twenty-five brothers in here. We played that way all year," Sabathia said. "We have nothing to hang our heads about. It's tough. It hurt. We'll be better for it."
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