The Yankees’ batting order is the envy of the American League, but they still are required to pitch to the other team, so their rotation remains an important priority this offseason, too.
On Tuesday they made official the return of a piece of that rotation, CC Sabathia, who signed a one-year contract for 2018. Newsday reported on Dec. 16 that the deal was imminent, pending a physical, and would be worth $10 million.
At 37, the lefthander will not be expected to dominate as he did early in his career but rather to be a reliable arm and a valued leader in the locker room.
Something like what he did last season would be welcome. He was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts, games in which the Yankees were 19-8. Following Yankees losses, he was 9-0 in the regular season with a 1.71 ERA.
In four postseason starts in 2017, including Game 7 of the ALCS against the Astros, he was 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA.
Sabathia originally signed with the Yankees as a free agent before the 2009 season. In nine seasons with them, he is 120-73 with a 3.75 ERA. Only Brett Gardner, who joined the team in 2008, has been a Yankee longer among current players.
Sabathia has the most wins (237), strikeouts (2,846), starts (509) and innings pitched (3,317) in the major leagues since his debut in 2001.
The Yankees hoped to retain Sabathia even before they were turned down the Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani. After Ohtani chose the Angels, Sabathia’s return became an even higher priority.