Yankees: Don’t Bet Against CC Sabathia For 2018

The Yankees will pay CC Sabathia $25,000,000 to pitch for them in 2017. They’ll be relying on him to be the workhorse he always has been, as well as being a force of stability in a rotation that is filled with question marks. It is thought his expiring contract means this would be his final year pitching for the team. But don’t count him out for 2018, when he could be an even more valuable piece of the team’s rotation.

The Yankees starting pitching rotation, much like the team itself, is in a state of flux for the 2017 season. With the exception of Masahiro Tanaka and (hopefully) Sabathia, no one knows what the team is going to get from guys like Michael Pineda, Luis Cessa, and Luis Severino.

Brian Cashman has said over and over again that he does not anticipate signing any of the remaining and watered down free agent pitchers who are still looking for a job. Cashman left open only a sliver of a chance that another starter would join the team via a trade. And by this time next year, it’s possible that the entire current rotation could be gone, at least in theory.

Sabathia Could Be The Last Man Standing

Tanaka could opt out of his contract as he is expected to do. Pineda self-implodes as he is projected to do. Cessa proves that he is not quite ready for prime time. And Severino continues to show that he may never figure it out. All of this, of course, will evolve as a process over the 2017 season.

And it’s not like the team doesn’t have a plethora of young arms being developed in their farm system. Yanks Go Yard has profiled,  among others, Jordan Montgomery, and Chance Adams

But if indeed all of it happens, Mr. Sabathia could very well become the last man standing in the current makeup of the rotation at the end of the season. Sabathia has not indicated one way or the other if he wants to continue his career. And if he does want to keep pitching, if he would be willing to sign a one-year deal that the Yankees would likely offer him at that point.

The Yankees Have More Flexibility In 2018

But we do know this much. The Yankees are going to have a boatload of money available in November. It could even be as high as $80 million after you minus out Sabathia ($25 million), Tanaka ($22 million), and the combined money owed to Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann for this year ($26 million). Add $13 for the likely departure of Chase Headley, and you realize that the Yankees are in a position to, not only get under the luxury tax threshold next year, but they’ll also have money to play with towards the pursuit of free agents like Jake Arrieta
and Yu Darvish.

CC Sabathia, at the age of 37, is learning how to pitch with his broken body. He knows he can no longer blow hitters away with that 96 MPH fastball he had when he was with Cleveland early in his career. He showed more confidence in his changeup last year, and a willingness to work hitters up and down, and in and out.

Barring further injury, and you always have to add that damn proviso in there, he could easily continue the process that began two seasons ago when he returned from knee surgery. He could even develop himself into a giant sized Jamie Moyer, who only knew one thing when he was pitching into his forties, and that’s how to get batters out.

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Again, the scenario of Sabathia returning to the Yankees next year is predicated on a series of events that may or may not happen. But it’s widely assumed that this will be Sabathia’s last year. I don’t see it that way at all, and I don’t think the Yankees are looking at it that way either.

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