The word came not from an agent or team source but from the man himself.
CC Sabathia isn't going anywhere.
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"Yankee fans, I'll be here fighting for number 28 next year!'' Sabathia announced on Twitter at just after 7 o'clock Monday night, less than five hours before the deadline for him to decide whether to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract.
The Yankees' extension offer, which again made the lefthander the game's highest- paid pitcher, avoided a scenario neither side wanted. And as a result, the Yankees could cross their No. 1 offseason priority off the list just three days after the World Series ended.
"It was a big motivation for me,'' Sabathia said in a conference call, referring to reaching an agreement before Monday's 11:59 p.m. opt-out deadline. "I didn't want to be part of being a free agent . . . and doing all that stuff. It was clear to everybody I wanted to be a Yankee. I wanted to stay a Yankee and finish my career as a Yankee, and hopefully I can do that.''
Sabathia, who had four years and $92 million left on the seven-year, $161-million deal he signed before the 2009 season, received a fifth year, with the contract's total value ballooning to $122 million. The deal has a sixth-year vesting option, contingent on his staying healthy, that could max out the contract at $142 million. "My son loves it here, all my kids love it here, my wife loves it here and I do, too,'' he said. "It was an easy choice. This is our home.''
The agreement pushed Sabathia ahead of his close friend, Cliff Lee, who signed a five-year deal for $120 million -- which includes a vesting option for a sixth year that could increase the package to $135 million -- with the Phillies last offseason.
"CC is the ace of our pitching staff, a leader in our clubhouse and a driving force for the Yankees in our community,'' general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "He is exactly the type player and person that Yankees fans and this organization can be proud of. We are excited that he will be wearing the pinstripes for many years to come.''
Cashman's contract expired Monday, but his return was never in question. The team has another conference call scheduled for Tuesday, when the GM will address Sabathia's extension and, presumably, his own new contract, which is expected to be for another three years.
Cashman, along with other members of the club hierarchy, worked for the last several days on getting the Sabathia deal done, with things intensifying Monday. The Yankees presented Sabathia's representatives an offer over the weekend, and though their initial proposal wasn't accepted, discussions continued that resulted in the agreement announced Monday night.
Sabathia said he was never interested in seeing what he might get on the open market, in which he immediately would have become the star pitching attraction. With the lefthander coming back, the Yankees' offseason became much easier in that they will be able to approach the free-agent and trade markets with more caution.
Sabathia is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA in three seasons with the Yankees, including 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 2011. His weight gain in the second half of the season concerned some in the organization, and he struggled down the stretch and in the postseason. Sabathia, who lost 25 pounds last offseason and weighed in at 290 last February on report day, said he got a little "lax'' in that department during the season's second half. Now dropping weight again is an offseason priority.
"It's something I need to do and be proactive about,'' he said. "I need to go out and be healthy. And try and do what I can to be out there for every start. For me, that means losing weight, so that's what I'll do.''