Sabathia would panic if still on free-agent market

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws during baseball spring training, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) CC Sabathia sees Jake Arrieta still unsigned as spring training starts and is happy not to be in a similar situation.

”I’d be panicking,” the 37-year-old left-hander said Thursday, a day after starting his 10th spring training with the New York Yankees.

Sabathia was a free agent when he signed a $161 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees ahead of the 2009 season, and he helped win a World Series title in his first season in New York. When Sabathia had the right to opt out after the 2011 season, the Yankees agreed to a deal that paid him $25 million in 2016 and included a $25 million option for 2017 that became guaranteed because he did not finish 2016 with a left shoulder injury.

After going back on the market, the six-time All-Star agreed in December to a $10 million, one-year deal that allows him to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses based on innings.

”Everything was kind of moving slow for me, too,” Sabathia said. ”I just thought that was kind of the pace of the offseason, but I never seen what we’ve been going through this year. It’s crazy, but I was just happy that I was able to get mine done.”

Sabathia, who needs periodic injections in his surgically repaired right knee, is 237-146 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,846 strikeouts in 17 big league seasons with Cleveland (2001-08), Milwaukee (2008) and the Yankees. He was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts last year, his best season since 2012. He was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts following a Yankees loss.

”When I was free agent, you got paid off of what you did,” Sabathia said. ”Now guys are getting paid for what they can do throughout that contract. So, it’s just a different landscape in baseball, with the way the teams are changing. The GMs are getting younger and smarter, want to get the more value out of the player.”

Sabathia thinks cutting the necessary service time for free agency eligibility could be a solution. It has been six years since free agency began in 176.

”I don’t know what you do, maybe shorten the years and make it four years instead of six so guys have a chance to be in their 20’s going into free agency instead of 30, and that makes a big difference,” Sabathia said.


Sabathia said Houston ace Justin Verlander has every right to say the defending champion Astros are the AL favorite, not the Yankees. ”They won the World Series,” Sabathia said.

Houston beat New York in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

”They’ve put together an amazing team,” new Yankees manager Aaron Boone added.

NOTES: Sabathia was OK one day after turning his left ankle during fielding drills and plans to throw off a bullpen mound Friday. … Coming off a season where he experienced shoulder weakness, closer Aroldis Chapman placed added emphasis in strengthening that area during the offseason.

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