NEW YORK -- First signing on with the Yankees nine years ago, Carsten Sabathia proved to be their missing piece, stabilizing New York's rotation en route to the 2009 World Series title. His goal is to add one more championship to his tenure, inking a one-year, $10 million deal Saturday to return to the Bronx.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand was first to report the signing, which the Yankees have not confirmed.
"CC feels there's unfinished business to attend to," said Sabathia's agent, Kyle Thousand of Roc Nation Sports. "There were competitive offers that CC was weighing, but in the end, CC wanted to come back and win a championship with the Yankees. He loves his teammates, the clubhouse and the moves the Yankees are making. He wants to bring home another championship to the Yankee fans."
Even entering his age-37 season, Sabathia appears capable of achieving those goals. Overcoming chronic right knee trouble long enough to start 27 games this year, the left-hander went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA.
Likewise a key part of the Yankees' postseason run, Sabathia struck out nine batters in 4 1/3 innings of New York's American League Division Series clincher in Cleveland, then blanked the Astros over six innings of AL Championship Series Game 3. Sabathia also started ALCS Game 7, allowing one run over 3 1/3 innings.
Afterward, the free agent hinted at a return to the Yankees, which came to fruition despite interest from other clubs.
"I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great," Sabathia, a Northern California native who now lives in New Jersey, said after Game 7. "This is my home, and I want to see this thing through."
On that young team, Sabathia is an elder statesman, baseball's active leader with 2,846 career strikeouts -- third all-time among left-handers, behind Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton -- and 3,317 innings pitched. The 17-year veteran also ranks second among active pitchers in victories (237) and games started (509), behind Bartolo Colon.
Overall in 17 seasons for the Indians, Brewers and Yankees, Sabathia is 237-146 with a 3.70 ERA. In addition to his work this October, Sabathia's big-game resume includes two dominant outings on short rest down the stretch in 2008 to push the Brewers into the postseason and a pair of quality starts in the '09 World Series. The left-hander ranks second among active players in postseason victories (10), third in innings (126 1/3) and fourth in strikeouts (120).
Though Sabathia is no longer the horse who led the AL with 241 innings during his Cy Young campaign for the Indians in 2007, he has averaged 165 2/3 innings the past three seasons. Nor do the Yankees need Sabathia, who underwent routine knee surgery in October, to be their ace, with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and others offering rotation stability.
Sabathia's signing continues a busy offseason for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who acquired reigning National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton earlier this month, then dealt infielder Chase Headley and right-hander Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash at the Winter Meetings. The Yankees, who have also been linked recently to Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, could still be in the market for another starter, as well as upgrades at second and third base.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Sabathia was a shallow-league asset in 2017. The veteran has seemingly found the right mix to keep hitters at bay without the overpowering stuff of his heyday, tying for fifth in average exit velocity allowed (85 mph, min. 200 balls in play) last season, according to Statcast™. While he lacks a high ceiling at this point, the southpaw could remain a dependable option by posting a sub-4.00 ERA while being supported by a deep bullpen and a potent lineup.