New York Yankees

Is CC Sabathia pitching his way into another Yankees contract?

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 21: New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia #52 reacts in the dugout after being taken out of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 21, 2017. (Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)

The New York Yankees will have a lot of decisions to make when this season ends and most of those will revolve around their starting rotation. Who to keep? Who to bid adieu? Who to sign? The biggest decision will obviously depend on whether Masahiro Tanaka opts out of his contract, but what about their longest-tenured starter CC Sabathia? The 37-year-old is in the last year of his mega-contract with the Yankees. Is there any chance the Yankees bring Sabathia back on a year-to-year basis?

It can possibly work out for both sides. Here’s why.

For one thing, Sabathia loves the area and loves playing for the Yankees. He has done a lot of charitable work in the NYC area while wearing the pinstripes. His children are still school age, and uprooting them could be inconvenient for his family. And as for the Yankees, Sabathia has done everything in his power to pitch as well as he can for them, so the two should be able to work out a deal.

Sabathia has had an up-and-down season with a few clunkers like his seven-run, seven-hit performance in 5.2 innings against Baltimore on April 28 and his injury-shortened start on Aug. 8 against Toronto that made him contemplate retirement. The majority of his rough starts this season have been against Toronto, but there also have been some highlights in 2017 like his eight-inning, no-run performance in Boston on June 7 or when he gave up only one run in seven innings against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

It has all worked out to a 10-5 record with a 3.82 ERA, not bad for a team in the market for a fifth starter, which the Yankees probably will want for 2018. Last season, Sabathia’s ERA was 3.91 in 179.2 innings. This year, Sabathia has had a couple of injuries — a hamstring in June and his knee in August — that have cost him some innings, so this IP total will be lower this season.

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia walks to the dugout after he was pulled from a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in the sixth inning, Friday, July 21, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Of course, more questions remain. Sabathia turns 38 in July 2018 and right now, he has nearly 3,300 innings logged on his left arm. While he doesn’t throw as hard as he did even two or three years ago, how much longer can the Yankees, or any team for that matter, expect Sabathia to perform at a high level? Well, Sabathia has relearned how to pitch, thanks to former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, his mentor who pitched at a high level until he was 41.

The current incarnation of Sabathia doesn’t try to mow down batters anymore, mainly because he can’t. So he’s more of a finesse pitcher who throws mostly a barrage of sinkers to go along with a barely 90-91 mph fastball mixed in with some changeups and sliders. That formula worked against Seattle on Friday night.

The past has shown that the Yankees love players who have helped them win championships, and Sabathia did that in 2009. And while that was eight years ago, ownership and, especially, New York fans never forget that sort of thing. So it’s possible Sabathia could return to the Yankees on a goodwill one-year deal in 2018.

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