UPDATE: Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that Sabathia will be placed on the disabled list.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Carig that Sabathia initially felt stiffness in the elbow in his first start back from a groin injury on July 17, but an MRI came back clean. The stiffness went away, but he felt something in the elbow again after his last start on Tuesday.
The move is retroactive to Thursday, so he’ll be eligible to return on August 23. Girardi continues to say that his level of concern is “pretty low,” so it appears the Yankees are just playing things safe here. Still, it’s tough not to be concerned if you’re a Bombers fan.
1:03 PM: Here’s a potentially troubling development for the first-place Yankees.
According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, CC Sabathia could miss his next start after experiencing some minor soreness in his left elbow in recent days.
Sabathia threw his regular bullpen session on Friday, but he could be scratched from Monday’s scheduled start against the Rangers if symptoms persist.
“Right now, it’s a low-level concern,” the source said. “Long-term, it’s not a big concern.”
Sabathia gave up five runs (three earned) over 6 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Tigers and holds a 3.56 ERA through 20 starts this season. No pitcher has thrown more innings than Sabathia since the start of the 2003 season. Only Mark Buehrle has logged more innings since Sabathia made his major league debut in 2001. The Yankees are downplaying the situation right now, but you can bet they are hoping the miles on his arm aren’t catching up with him.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.