At a press conference in Tampa earlier today, CC Sabathia announced he will retire following the upcoming season, as expected. He’s been saying 2019 will be his final season on his R2C2 podcast since last summer and now it’s official. The big man is hanging up his spikes after the season.
“CC has been a great ambassador for our game, and we are proud that he has represented our organization for the past decade.” said Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “His competitive spirit is matched only by his devotion to family and his relentless philanthropic pursuits. CC has always been a pillar in our clubhouse, and we look forward to him further cementing his impressive legacy this season and contributing to our championship goals.”
Everyone from Derek Jeter to Andy Pettitte to Jorge Posada to Joe Girardi to A.J. Burnett to LeBron James to Fat Joe issued statements congratulating Sabathia. Here’s the release with their statements. Sabathia said his offseason heart scare had nothing to do with his decision to retire. He’d made up his mind before that and he’s ready to spend more time with his family. Sabathia also said he doesn’t want to coach after his playing days are over. He’s ready to relax.
When asked about his legacy, Sabathia said he wanted to be remembered as a good teammate more than anything, and I don’t think he has to worry about that. Just about the entire team attended the press conference, even the position players who haven’t reported to Spring Training yet, as did members of coaching staff, front office, and ownership group. Sabathia’s wife and three of their four kids were there as well.
As part of his farewell season Sabathia announced he will honor members of the Boys & Girls Club in each road city the Yankees play throughout the year. He said he wouldn’t be where he is without the Boys & Girls Club and he wants to give back. I’m sure CC will receive some gifts like we’ve seen with other respected veterans in their farewell seasons. He’s making sure he does some giving of his own in his final season as well. That’s just who he is.
Sabathia turns 39 in July and is entering his 19th big league season overall and his 11th with the Yankees. He signed with the team as a free agent in December 2008 and, at the time, his seven-year, $161M contract was the richest pitching contract in baseball history. Sabathia rewarded the Yankees with a World Series championship in the first season of that contract. It was money very well spent.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing, of course. Sabathia struggled with velocity loss from 2013-15 before reinventing himself as a cutter pitcher late in his career. He’s pitched with right knee problems for years and he also left the Yankees to receive treatment for alcohol addiction right before the 2015 postseason. Sabathia has had to overcome a lot, especially late in his career. He’s always been a ferocious competitor who left everything he had on the field.
At the moment Sabathia is four wins away from 250 and 14 strikeouts away from 3,000. He’ll join Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton as the only lefties in the 3,000-strikeout club — Sabathia is already the all-time American League leader in strikeouts by a lefty — and, when the time comes, he’ll have a great case for the Hall of Fame. Sabathia said he hasn’t thought much about that yet though.
Sabathia is currently fourth on the franchise strikeout list (1,593), 11th in wins (129), 12th in starts (284), and 12th in pitching WAR (+29.7). Two more wins moves him into the franchise’s top ten. Also, he has a career 3.45 ERA in 19 postseason games (18 starts) in pinstripes. Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in Yankees history and he should have a place in Monument Park when it’s all said and done. Send him out with another ring, Yankees.