The New York Yankees are keeping the apex of their rotation in place as CC Sabathia has decided to remain with the team.
Sabathia, who had until midnight to opt out of his existing four-year, $92 million deal, announced in a video that he and the Yankees agreed on a contract extension that will keep him from testing free agency and have him stay until at least 2016.
Happy Halloween, everybody, said Sabathia in the video. My goal the whole time was to finish my career as a Yankee and hopefully I can do that. We seem to have gotten that accomplished today. So I look forward to seeing everyone at the ballpark next year. Thank you.''
Here are the terms of the deal:
- The new remaining deal on his original contract is now for five years and $122 million instead of four years and $92 million.
- Sabathia, 31, will be paid $25 million in 2016, which is the final year of the new five-year deal. This means that over the next four years, he will be paid a total of $97 million instead of the $92 million he would have been making in his previous deal.
- The new deal also contains what's called a vesting option for $25 million in 2017 along with a $5 million buyout that will be based solely on the condition of Sabathia's shoulder, since the Yankees have some concern about a pre-condition in his shoulder. Sabathia will qualify for the vesting option as long as he spends less than 45 days on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in 2016, according to ESPN.
In the end, the Yankees added one year and $30 million to Sabathia's contract just to avoid the opt-out clause, which may have cost them their whole pitching rotation at least for next year.
According to ESPN, Sabathia, not just the Yankees, worked hard to avoid an opt-out. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, M.I.A. for the weekend, was unavailable to the media since last Thursday, and Team President Randy Levine refused to comment. Sabathia's agent Brian Peters was also practically nonexistent, showing further proof of intense negotiations.
However, it took just one phone call on Monday for Sabathia to prove his willingness to remain in pinstripes, as per ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney via Twitter: Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke with Sabathia on the phone this morning, along with his agent; Sabathia made it clear he wanted deal completed.
Had Sabathia opted for free agency, he surely would have been the top starting pitcher on the market. After Sabathia, the Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson, the Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle, the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Oswalt and even Japanese standout Yu Darvish would have been some of the other top starters.
Sabathia went 19-8 for the Yankees last season and has won 59 games for them over his three seasons in pinstripes. The idea of Sabathia opting out really gained ground after many started to realize his declining effectiveness over the second half of last season. He didn't win either of his two starts in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers, a series which the Yankees lost in five games. The notion of Sabathia going to the Rangers or even the Boston Red Sox, teams that could potentially match the Yankees' remaining contract for the ace, materialized within minds.
Ultimately, the Yankees knew it was imperative that Sabathia return to a rotation that without him would have been more jumbled than it was with him. After Sabathia, the Yankees only have two other established starters, Ivan Nova, who went 16-4 last season, and A.J. Burnett, who, for a pitcher that made $16.5 million, went a disappointing 11-11. With that said, Nova seems like the more reliable number two at this point.
But now, the Yankees can breathe knowing that Sabathia will be the relied-upon, top-of-the-rotation guy for the next five years, barring any setback, including a serious shoulder injury. Even then, the Yankees are probably not worried. The 2007 Cy Young Award winner has thrown an average of 240 innings in each of his last five seasons and has one of the most durable arms in baseball.
Next on the agenda for the Bombers: sure up the rest of the rotation.
Watch Sabathia's video announcement below: