Earlier today the Yankees were cornered into a position. Either give up key parts of you farm system for an average pitcher, or test your luck with a kid at the end of your rotation, a rotation lacking depth in the minors. The Yankees answered other teams by signing back C.C. Sabathia on a one year, 10 million dollar deal. For many this deal comes of somewhat of a surprise given Sabathia’s solid 2017 campaign that he would settle for a one year deal, but if you dig beyond the numbers you may find a silver lining.
Sabathia signed a 7 year 161 million dollar deal with the Yankees and he was certainly all what he was cracked up to be through 2012, but after 2012 Sabathia lost his velocity and it led to a disastrous 2013 campaign for Sabathia. He struggled all season long and could never find his former self and ended up posting a 4.78ERA. Many expected Sabathia to bounce back to form in 2014, but 2014 proved to be even more of a struggle. Sabathia finished the season with a 5.28ERA and would only pitch in 8 games as the former ace looked to be nothing short of a former shell of himself. The critics were out on Sabathia going into 2015 as he tried to adjust to a life without his power fastball, but he would find no success again in 2015 as he finished the year with a 4.73ERA while only winning 6 games and losing 10. To make his 2015 season even worse Sabathia missed the Yankees post season in 2015 when he shocked Baseball by checking himself into alcohol rehab.
By this point many Yankee fans were fed up with Sabathia and there were hopes that the Yankees would release, or trade off the rest of his contract. If you asked most fans in 2015 if Sabathia would return to the Yankees in 2018 the answer would have been a unanimous no.
The 2016 season was a big year for Sabathia. After getting sober and coming off 3 years that we’re embarrassing. Sabathia was determined to make the 2016 season different. Sabathia got help from the former Yankee great, Andy Pettitte, Sabathia would find a cutter that kept batters honest while improving his off speed offerings. Sabathia was learning how to pitch as opposed to how to throw. There is a big difference between having electric stuff and being able to throw it, and actually pitching. Pitchers entering the second half of their career have to adjust to no longer over powering people with a dominant fastball and sharp breaking pitches. Instead pitchers have to learn how to throw off a batters timing, and pitching to all parts of the plate moving the ball up and down, and in and out. Sabathia proved useful in 2016 posting a respectful 3.91ERA and was dominant at certain points in the season.
Sabathia’s 2017 season he proved why you can never count out a former cy young and a wiley ole’ vet. With the likes of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery on the staff, CC proved to possibly the most important piece of the staff. C.C. was a stopper going 10-0 in games following a Yankee loss, going 14-5 with a 3.61ERA and pitching in four elimination games in the post season including 2 winner take all games. He baffled Astro hitter’s in the ALCS holding them to just 1 run in 9.1 innings of baseball.
Throughout the second part of the contract the Yankees never wavered in their support for the big lefty. When C.C. was healthy, he pitched, every fifth day. No questions asked. In parts that probably gave Sabathia a sense of gratitude for the support the Yankees showed him throughout the turmoil he went through to rediscover himself as a pitcher. The Yankees now get a leader, grinder, and very strong pitcher to slide into the back side of their rotation. Sabathia also has to love the idea that he can get another shot at a ring with the moves the Yankees have made. He’s likely to follow the Andy Pettitte path at this point and continue to take one year deals until he has had enough.
This moves means the Yankees will most likely start with the same rotation they ended their season with last year. Throughout this off season Clint Frazier and Chance Adams were two names being thrown around in trade talks for starting pitchers who were not an upgrade over Sabathia. This signing has allowed the Yankees to hold onto their prospects while giving them another year to develop, but more importantly it puts the Yankees in a position of power when negotiating trades. Earlier this off season Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone both said it would be possible that the Yankees could bring in two arms this off season. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the Yankees have given themselves leverage in trade discussions. Earlier today the Yankees were short a starter and other teams knew that, but the Yankees don’t have to make a deal for another starter at this point either which gives them the luxury of maximizing what they can get in return for their prospects if they decide to make a trade.
With this move the Yankees have sured up a rotation that had a question mark at the back end of it, saved their farm system and continued to let the likes of Adams, Sheffield, Acevedo, and others continue to develop and gives the Yankees a look at what they have before a loaded 2018-2019 free agency class hits. The Yankees do still lack major league starting pitching depth and finding another serviceable arm is something that is probably still on the Yankees radar as well as adding another infielder. The Yankee off season has been a major success and the signing of C.C. Sabathia has continued to fuel the fire of this off season solidifying the Yankees as a true World Series threat for 2018.
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