Veteran left-hander CC Sabathia plans to continue his career in 2018, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter link). The 37-year-old impending free agent may have taken the mound as a Yankee for the last time on Saturday, when he tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings of four-hit, six-strikeout ball in a win over the Blue Jays.
Whether New York advances past Minnesota in Tuesday’s AL wild-card game could help determine if Sabathia will get the ball again as a Yankee. The potential Hall of Famer was instrumental in the team’s regular-season success, pitching to a 3.69 ERA over 148 2/3 innings. Although Sabathia didn’t post gaudy strikeout and walk numbers (7.26 K/9, 3.03 BB/9), he helped offset that by logging a groundball percentage of 49.9 and, according to FanGraphs, the majors’ sixth-best hard contact rate among starters with at least 140 frames.
While the Yankees and Sabathia may part ways in the offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team re-sign the franchise icon – especially considering fellow starters Masahiro Tanaka and Jaime Garcia could hit the market. Formerly with the Indians and Brewers, the 2007 AL Cy Young winner joined the Yankees prior to the 2009 season on a seven-year, $161MM contract and has turned into one of the most successful starters in their storied history. He helped the Yankees to their most recent World Series title in 2009, the first of five straight 200-inning seasons with the club, and has recorded a 3.75 ERA and accounted for 30.5 fWAR/28.5 rWAR across 255 starts (1,657 2/3 frames) in the Bronx.
Sabathia endured a rough, injury-impacted stretch from 2013-15, a period in which his ERA ballooned to 4.81 in 69 starts, but has overcome knee issues to reemerge as a capable starter over the past couple years. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder is finishing up the five-year, $142MM extension he signed in 2011, when the Yankees gave him a raise to prevent an opt-out. Sabathia’s next deal obviously won’t approach his expiring pact in length or value, but he clearly made a case for a solid short-term payday during the regular season. The only question is whether it’ll come from the Yankees or another team.