CC Sabathia is staying with the Yankees.
Sabathia announced his decision early Monday evening via his own website, saying that he has agreed to a contract extension and that he hopes to finish his career as a Yankee. According to sources, the one-year extension guarantees Sabathia another $30 million, on top of the $92 million the Yankees already owed him for the final four years of his contract. It includes a vesting option for a sixth-year, which would bring the entire package to $142 million.
Essentially, the 31-year-old left-hander has a new five-year deal for $122 million guaranteed.
Sabathia originally came to the Yankees as a free agent three years ago, signing a seven-year, $161 million deal that was the biggest ever for a pitcher. To convince Sabathia to agree to the contract, and to overcome any reservations he had about coming to New York, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman added a clause giving Sabathia the right to opt out after three years.
As it turned out, Sabathia and his family liked New York, and he helped the Yankees to a World Series title in his first season. And the opt-out clause became simply a way for Sabathia to get more money, rather than an escape clause.
Sabathia and the Yankees faced a Monday night deadline, although technically the pitcher could have opted out by the deadline and still signed a contract with the Yankees after becoming a free agent.
The Yankees had little choice but to retain Sabathia, because neither the free-agent market nor the trade market seemed to include any starters who could successfully take his place at the top of their rotation. With Sabathia off the market, the best free-agent pitchers available are C.J. Wilson, Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle, none of whom profiles as a true ace.
Sabathia is 59-23 in his three years with the Yankees, with a 3.18 ERA over 101 starts. The only pitcher in the major leagues with more wins in that span is the Tigers' Justin Verlander, who is 61-23 with a 3.08 ERA.
Sabathia put on considerable weight during the 2011 season, and Yankee officials whispered concern about whether committing too many more long-term dollars to him made sense. But their rotation needs help even with Sabathia, and no matter how heavy he was, he was still one of the very best starting pitchers in baseball this season.