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Out of Ohtani race, Yanks could pursue CC

Cashman: Improving starting rotation is 'biggest focus'
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- As they absorb their surprising early elimination from the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Yankees' continued interest in upgrading their starting rotation could lead them to a reunion with CC Sabathia.

Yanks general manager Brian Cashman said that he has recently spoken with Kyle Thousand, the agent for the veteran left-hander. Sabathia has repeatedly said that he hopes to return to New York for the 2018 season.

NEW YORK -- As they absorb their surprising early elimination from the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the Yankees' continued interest in upgrading their starting rotation could lead them to a reunion with CC Sabathia.

Yanks general manager Brian Cashman said that he has recently spoken with Kyle Thousand, the agent for the veteran left-hander. Sabathia has repeatedly said that he hopes to return to New York for the 2018 season.

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"We're going to constantly look to improve our starting rotation if possible. That's the biggest focus," Cashman said. "CC Sabathia has been a tremendous Yankee for quite a long time and one of the leaders in that clubhouse and on that field and of our pitching staff. And he's a free agent."

Video: Cashman on Ohtani's decision not to sign with Yankees

Sabathia, 37, went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts this past season, leading the Yankees in victories while posting his lowest ERA since 2012 (3.38). He also served as the team's stopper, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 regular-season starts following a Yanks loss.

"I want to be a part of something that I started," Sabathia said last week. "I was here with the old guard and kind of here with the new guard, so I would like to see it through and win a championship with these young guys."

Cashman said that the Yankees will continue to engage with Sabathia, as well as alternatives on the free-agent and trade markets. The Yanks have also been connected to free agent Alex Cobb; the 30-year-old right-hander was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts for the Rays this past season, and he turned down a qualifying offer from Tampa Bay.

"Pitching is the most important aspect, especially the rotation for us," Cashman said. "Stay tuned."

The Yankees' 2018 rotation projects to be headed by right-hander Luis Severino, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award race, with right-handers Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka behind him. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who impressed during his rookie campaign, is likely to claim a spot at the back end of the starting mix.

Sabathia, who leads all active Major Leaguers in strikeouts (2,846), innings (3,317), complete games (38) and quality starts (302), has said that he would be at peace even if he has to complete his career with another team.

"I've been playing for 17 years," Sabathia said. "This is always icing on the top for me. This is all extra, so whatever happens, happens. If I'm pitching here or I'm pitching wherever, I'm going to have fun and enjoy it. It's all fun for me now."

Bombers bits
There have been no developments with regard to a potential Jacoby Ellsbury trade. Cashman said that he has spoken twice recently with Ellsbury's agent Scott Boras, but not regarding the potential of Ellsbury waiving his no-trade clause. The 34-year-old has three years and $68 million remaining on the seven-year, $153 million pact he signed prior to the 2014 season.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Yankees, CC Sabathia