By Sweeny Murti
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (WFAN) — The Yankees could use CC Sabathia back in 2018. The question is how badly do they want him.
Nine years ago Brian Cashman showed how badly he wanted Sabathia when he left the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to jet over to California and make his pitch to the then 28-year-old lefty in person. Now, all he has to do is drive over the GWB. Yet it has been a slow developing process as the Yankees have moved forward on other matters first before addressing their pitching. You may have heard something about their new manager and their new slugger from Miami.
A free agent again at age 37, Sabathia has already had meetings with the Angels and Blue Jays, and the Yankees have remained in contact. But are Los Angeles and Toronto realistic landing spots and legitimate contenders to rip Sabathia away from New York?
Before he signed with the Yankees in December 2008 the word was how much Sabathia wanted to be in California, and now the opportunity might appeal to him again even if it’s for just one year.
Toronto is intriguing because Sabathia has remained close to Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro since their days together in the Indians organization. But after what’s happened in the last week, can anyone really convince Sabathia that pitching against the right-handed power of the Yankees five or six times a year is the right move at this point in his career?
There has even been some chatter about the Indians being interested in bringing Sabathia back to the place where his career began. That’s a team that at least can sell itself as a legitimate World Series contender next season. During the AL Division Series against the Indians, Sabathia fondly remembered those early days.
Sabathia obviously has many ties to the Yankees, including with new manager Aaron Boone, who was a teammate and a friend in Cleveland a decade ago. On a Yankees team that went through an expedited rebuild, Sabathia has been a leader for pitchers like Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Dellin Betances. If it’s another World Series ring he is after, it would be hard to argue another team he is willing to join being a better bet than the Yankees, who have raised their bar significantly.
If the Yankees fail to show enough interest while another team gets more aggressive, that could certainly push Sabathia out the door. But the Yankees are looking for starting pitching and Sabathia gave them 148 strong innings last season. They need to fill that number and a little more before feeling like they are ready to compete in 2018. Cashman isn’t tipping his hand on whether he is looking to add more than one pitcher, but Sabathia is definitely in the mix.
I don’t know if money will be a major hangup — the Yankees paid Sabathia over $205 million from 2009-17. But if Sabathia sees the Yankees moving in other directions, I wonder how quickly he will move to find a new home.
Please follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN