CC Sabathia

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Keidel: It Won't Make Waves, But Re-Signing CC Sabathia Is Right Move For Yankees

Jason Keidel
November 07, 2018 - 1:38 pm
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The Yankees have long lived with comic book contours. They don't sign or trade players; they make seismic splashes, their pinstriped ripples fanning out across the world. Before the Dallas Cowboys became America's team, the Yankees were the model of a seminal sports franchise. Even Vince Lombardi, the patron saint of our biggest sport, made a point of remolding his Packers into the Yankees of football. 

But under the banners and bluster, it's often a small move here, a signing there, that gives the team the edge it needs to win 100 games or to win that deciding playoff game. Chemistry is often as telling as talent in team sports. 

So when the Yankees signed CC Sabathia for one more season, it didn’t shake the baseball world with its aftershocks. The $8 million they gave their hulking, sagacious southpaw to pitch one more season is the Yankee equivalent of a coin between the cushions.  Boomer and Gio aren't lavishing the club with praise over the move. And maybe some Yankees fans don't want a 38-year-old who's lost at least 5 mph off his fastball. 

But in this case the Yankees did the right thing. Like Boomer Esiason, I'll never get why the club canned Joe Girardi when he came within nine innings of the 2017 World Series, only to see them lose in the ALDS in 2018 under Aaron Boone. But we can only work with the pieces in place. Girardi is gone, Boone isn't going anywhere, and Brian Cashman has the increased control he covets. 

Still, the Yankees' longtime GM made the right move by courting Sabathia for one more summer. It's hard to fathom the vitriol directed at this signing. Indeed, Sabathia started 29 games last season, went 9-7, and posted a respectable 3.65 ERA. (Which, by the way, is slightly lower than his career, 3.70 ERA.) 

Sabathia was still surprisingly effective last summer, striking out 140 batters in 153 innings, despite losing some zip on his quiver of pitches. And it's not like the money or the roster spot precludes the Bombers from tweaking their roster. The Yankees scored a biblical barrel of runs, set the MLB record for homers for a team in a single season and will only get better with the maturation of their young bats.  

The difference between the Yankees and Red Sox was pitching. So why not keep someone who can still start 25 games and can double as a big brother and part-time pitching coach? Sabathia has also been fabulous in starts following Yankees’ losses, which speaks to his veteran awareness. He's hardly teetering, with a 23-12 record over the last two years, and a respectable 3.67 ERA. Plus, they can sign Sabathia and still court other starting pitchers like Arizona ace Patrick Corbin. 

MORE: Yankees, Sabathia Agree On 1-Year Deal

With Girardi gone, Sabathia and Brett Gardner are the only current Yankees tethered to their last World Series title. The Yankees used to have a conga line of players with more rings than Liberace, but those days are over. The best way to get back there is to have someone who remembers how. They need an ambassador to the glory days, a tour guide into October. 

CC Sabathia no longer short-circuits the radar gun. He's no longer that monolith in Milwaukee who literally carried the Brewers into October, or who was the top arm of the Yankees World Series team in '09. But you need character and chemistry to succeed, and CC Sabathia has both in surplus. If he can sprinkle a dozen wins over next summer, everyone wins. Signing Sabathia may not be the Yankees' biggest move, but it's the right move.