Well, here’s a surprise.
CC Sabathia just announced that he has agreed to a contract extension with the Yankees.
Most expected Sabathia would opt out of the remaining four years and $92 million on his contract and test free agency, but both sides worked hard to hammer out a new deal before tonight’s deadline.
As Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports, this essentially is a one-year contract extension. Sabathia will earn $25 million in 2016 while Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears that the contract includes a $25 million vesting option for 2017 or a $5 million buyout. The 31-year-old left-hander is now guaranteed $122 million over the next five years, or $24.4 million per year, which tops Cliff Lee ($24 million) for the highest average annual value for a pitcher.
UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the option for 2017 automatically vests unless Sabathia ends the 2016 season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, spends more than 45 days on the disabled list in 2016 due to a shoulder injury or makes at least six relief appearances in 2016 due to shoulder issues.
UPDATE II: The Yankees are currently holding a conference call and have sent out a press release. This baby is official.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.