Thursday, November 2, 2017

2018 Free Agency: CC Sabathia – Yay or Nay

Earlier today we discussed the impending opt-out clause written into the contract of Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and in that article, seen here on The Greedy Pinstripes, we compared the situation that Tanaka and the Yankees are currently facing with the situation that the team and left-handed starter CC Sabathia faced back in 2011. The Yankees had an opt-out clause written into CC’s contract and rather than CC opting out the two sides came to a new five-year deal that would run through the 2017 season due to a vesting option. That season is over and so is the contract for the Yankees veteran southpaw and now the team and CC are once again facing the possibility of free agency and a separation. What will CC do, what will Brian Cashman do, and will I be wrong once again this offseason? Stay tuned…. And may I say, damn it is awfully early in the offseason for me to already be getting things wrong.

This one is pretty easy for me, bring back Sabathia. Period. I think the Yankees should bring back one of their team leaders and a veteran in the pitching staff and I think that they will. The team has not been shy about giving big base salaries on one-year deals to veteran pitchers at the end of their careers, see Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda as recent examples of this, and the team will likely do the same this offseason with Sabathia. Giving Sabathia a one-year deal worth $15 million or so is a great insurance policy for the team and is likely enough to keep Sabathia happy and with the team as they continue to grow their young talent in the minors.

Yes, I have heard the arguments that the five best pitchers on the team should break camp with the team before Opening Day 2018 and in most cases I agree with that, but I don’t think I can do that here. Obviously, a lot of this hinges on the Tanaka decision but having a leader and a teacher like Sabathia on the team with players like Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Sonny Gray and eventually pitchers like Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams is invaluable. Shout out to Scott Fielder for the word invaluable, as he stated that that veteran leadership was invaluable on the team in the comments section earlier in the week. I couldn’t agree more, and I think that truly fits this Sabathia situation here this offseason.

Sabathia will be back in 2018 with the Yankees if he chooses to keep pitching and wants to stay in New York. Obviously, the lure of going back to the West Coast will always be in the back of Sabathia’s mind as that is where he is from but ultimately, I feel like Sabathia has set down roots in the New York area and will be back at least through the 2018 season. If Sabathia pitches well in 2018 and can teach the young guns in the Yankees staff how to grow he will make the Yankees back that $15 million ten-fold. If Sabathia doesn’t pitch well in 2018 then the team could always try and trade him or eat the money left on his contract since it is just for one season, it’s a win-win for the Yanks.


  1. I've seen criticism of Sabathia as a 5-inning pitcher but that's fine for me as a fifth starter and the intangibles that Sabathia brings to the table. I'd love for Sabathia to instill that grit and determination in the promising younger starters. Justin Verlander didn't make a difference in the post-season simply because he has a great arm. I'd like to see him come back. If he doesn't, I could see him going to the A's for a chance to play in front of his home crowd.

  2. Ok 1 year 2 million , 1 million delected for all star , 1 million for 30 starts , 1 million for 15 wins , 1 million for 20 wins.
    Possible 6 million is fair enough.

    1. Not sure where you're coming up with $6 million. CC had a 2.8 WAR this season. Considering that GM's usually pay around $8-9 million per WAR point, that would put CC at $22-25 million per season. A team friendly deal would put him at $15-17 million. I would talk to him and see if he wants a QO. If he accepts it, great.

    2. Rich Hill signed a 3 year contract worth just under $17 million a year before this past season, and he had an OPS+ of 193 the season before agreeing to that deal.

      Ian Kennedy signed a deal with KC worth $16m a year after the 2015 season. Mind you, I'd take CC over him (in a vacuum), but he was 30 years old at the time. Honestly, this contract is an outlier, as Ian was and is overpaid.

      Mike Leake, who signed a deal worth $17m a year after the 2015 season, didn't exactly "kill it" the year before, but at 27 years old it's entirely feasible that his best years were yet to come.

      The point is $15-$17 million is not "team friendly" at all. Especially for a 37 year old pitcher that doesn't throw deep into games. MLBTR predicted $12 million a year, which I think is closer to what he will and should get (from whoever).

    3. ERA+ is a very skewed stat beings that Rich Hill got $17 million a year with his 193 ERA+ after providing a grand total of 20 starts, 110 innings for an average of 5.5 innings in his age 36 season. He followed that up with 25 starts, 135 innings for an average of 5.4 innings. Sabathia's age 36 season was 30/180/6, his age 37 was 27/149/5.5. The team friendly part is that it's only one year. I would rather pay $17 million for one year, than gamble $24 million for 2 years on a knee that even Sabathia admits is day to day.

    4. A two year deal makes for a lower AAV, which is more important to the team next season. If his knee does give out then the team can afford to pay him to stay at home, or pitch for another team in 2018, when they can spend freely.

    5. Here, I disagree with you though. The Yankees are going to have no issue at all resetting they're luxury tax. They have a projected 40 man payroll of about $150 million next season. And that's before they try moving players like Gardner or Ellsbury. And not including whether or not Tanaka opts out. $17 for one season makes more sense to me then having to commit to 2/$24.

    6. I feel the same way about them getting under the threshold, but so many "experts" and fellow bloggers seem to be at least a little worried.

      I guess we agree to disagree about CC's value, though.


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