For CC Sabathia, there’s no better place to pitch than Yankee Stadium.
The big left-hander decided to stay with New York rather than test the free-agent market, agreeing Monday to a new deal that adds $30 million and one season to his existing contract, giving him a package that pays $122 million over the next five years.
”My son loves it here. All my kids love it here. My wife loves it here, obviously, and I do, too. I love pitching for the Yankee fans and everything, so it was the easy choice,” Sabathia said during a conference call.
The 31-year-old had until midnight to opt out of his current agreement, which had $92 million remaining over the next four years in $23 million annual salaries.
New York added a $25 million salary for 2016 and gets a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout.
”It was just more time. That’s all it was. It was never a question about money or anything like that,” Sabathia said. ”I just want to end my career here. I want to make sure I end my career as a Yankee and, hopefully, I’ve done that.”
Sabathia agreed to a $161 million, seven-year deal with New York before the 2009 season. He has gone 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA during the regular season for the Yankees.
Sabathia headed a staff that included rookie Ivan Nova, injury prone Phil Hughes, inconsistent A.J. Burnett and surprise additions Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Without Sabathia, the Yankees’ rotation would have been in trouble.
”CC is the ace of our pitching staff, a leader in our clubhouse and a driving force for the Yankees in our community,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. ”He is exactly the type player and person that Yankees fans and this organization can be proud of. We are excited that he will be wearing the pinstripes for many years to come.”
When he signed with the Yankees after pitching for Cleveland (2001-08) and Milwaukee (2008), Sabathia moved his family from California, where he grew up in Vallejo, to Alpine, N.J.
He said the key for him was his family ”and making sure everything was kosher with them” with living in the New York area. Then he learned what it was like pitching in the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium.
”The energy, what you get coming out the bullpen, the fans,” he said. ”Everything it is it is to be pitching in New York, in the Bronx. It’s just so much fun. To be part of this organization is just a dream for me.”
Sabathia’s option becomes guaranteed if he does not end the 2016 season on the disabled list because of a left shoulder injury, does not spend more than 45 days of 2016 on the DL with a left shoulder injury or does not make six or more relief appearances in 2016 because of shoulder issues.
He retains a hotel suite on trips, a no-trade provision and the right to buy tickets.
Listed by the Yankees as 290 pounds, Sabathia lost weight going into spring training but appeared to gain it back this season. He went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA but was 0-1 in his last three starts, then didn’t get a decision in two postseason starts and allowed a key run in Game 5 against Detroit, when he made his first career relief appearance and New York was eliminated with a 3-2 loss.
He plans on losing weight.
”It’s something I do regardless, and be proactive,” he said. ”I just need to go out and be healthy and try to do what I can to be up there for every start for this team. For me, that means losing weight, so that’s what I’ll do.”