CC Sabathia turned in a gutsy performance against the Mets last night. Shaky as all get-out early, but he dodged bullets, bore down and somehow limited the Mets to just five hits over six innings of one-run ball. Not too bad, all things considered. And way better if, you know, you didn’t actually watch him. A lot of Sabathia’s starts are that way now.
The culprit, of course, is wear and tear. Most notably on his knee. A knee, he told Barry Bloom of MLB.com after last night’s game, is gonna need some major surgery at some point:
CC Sabathia is pitching with bone-on-bone arthritis in his right knee, he told MLB.com as Sunday night turned into Monday morning . . . Asked if he ultimately would need knee-replacement surgery, Sabathia said, “Eventually, but that’s the price you pay.”
When he and the Yankees pay it is the question. He is 35 and has pitched nearly 3,000 innings in 15 seasons, having gotten a very young start back when he was with the Indians. His contract, however, runs through one more season, guaranteed anyway, and a 2017 option. 2016 will cost the Yankees $25 million. 2017 could vest at a guaranteed $25 million if he doesn’t experience left shoulder problems, specifically. Nothing about the knee is in the contract. So: it’s fairly likely that the Yankees still have to pay him $50 million over the next two years. If, somehow, the option is avoided, there’s still a $5 million buyout, so it’s a guaranteed $30 million.
Sabathia is wearing a brace that helps his mechanics at the moment and it’s sort of working. The question for the Yankees is whether it will work for over two more years.