With Sabathia still on standby, Shohei Ohtani shot rivets through the heart of New York baseball this weekend when he eliminated the Yankees as a team he would sign with. As often happens in baseball, one door closes, and another one opens. Watch carefully how quickly CC Sabathia walks through the open door.
Apparently, Shohei Ohtani has a plan more complex than even the one Brian Cashman executed, to put the New York Yankees in a position as one of three teams (Rangers and Twins included) with the most international signing bonus money to attract Ohtani.
Alas, the Yankees and Twins (along with the Mets) have been removed from the sweepstakes by Ohtani’s camp while the Rangers are still hanging in there. With no explanation forthcoming from Ohtani as to why he shunned the Yankees, conjecture suggests he wants to play on the West Coast with a smaller market team, and further, that money is not, at the age of 23, going to be a significant factor in his decision, at least for the moment.
The Yankees, you’ll recall, were considered to be the favorite to land Ohtani’s services with the thought he was looking primarily for a big stage. George King III just two weeks ago wrote a story in the New York Post in which he polled some of the most respected scouts in the industry regarding where Ohtani would land. Universally, they all picked the Yankees. It turns out, that dream is over.
For the teams still in play, Ohtani or Ohtani’s camp (we’re still not sure yet who’s pulling the strings) seem to have a process in mind which will keep this reality show going right up to the 11:59 PM deadline on Dec. 22.
Monday, for example, the San Francisco Giants were tabbed as the most recent team to meet with Ohtani.
#Giants are meeting with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives today in Los Angeles according to multiple sources involved in the process.
— Jim Bowden?? (@JimBowdenGM) December 4, 2017
That process is likely to continue until all seven teams in the running have auditioned for a starring role until you guessed it, the “winner” will (likely) be unveiled in a special presentation or primetime “show” that will make the selection of the Cleveland Cavaliers by LeBron James look like kindergarten.
Brian Cashman is not Baseball America’s Executive of the Year because he looks back lamenting what could have been if only Greg Bird had played a full season or if Joe Girardi wasn’t asleep at the wheel on that well-chronicled blunder replay which wasn’t called for and caused the Yankees to fall behind 0-2 to the Indians. But that too is in the past where it should be.
Instead, Cashman is already at work to put the pieces together regarding the Yankees starting rotation. My colleague, Allison Case, recently described the complexities involved for Cashman, and now Aaron Boone, if Ohtani was to be with the Yankees in 2018.
Much of that has now disappeared, and it sets the stage for the return of CC Sabathia in his last hurrah cameo in a New York Yankees uniform. I don’t know, but I would suspect Brian Cashman has kept Sabathia on the back burner only because there wasn’t an opening for him in the Yankees rotation with Ohtani in the picture.
Moreover, and much like Aaron Boone, I would surmise Cashman has a “thing” for Sabathia which involves tremendous respect for him as both a person and as a critical ingredient in the Yankees clubhouse, and someone who can (still) get major league hitters out at 37 years old.
Detractors will point out Sabathia’s age and his struggles with a left knee that has born the weight of 325 lbs and constant pounding. They’ll go on to detail that over 509 starts in the big leagues, CC Sabathia will, if he averaged just 75 pitches per start, have thrown 38,175 pitches to date, not counting the postseason.
And a segment will holler the big lummox can’t field his position. Have you been watching?
No doubt, at some point baseball will be a thing of the past for CC Sabathia. But does it need to be this year? Luis Severino, despite last season’s Cy Young-like performance, is not yet fully established, and by no means is Jordan Montgomery either. Sonny Gray has yet to prove he is ready for the big stage in New York, and Masahiro Tanaka needs to recover the consistency he lost last season.
Alex Cobb may or may not be in the sights of Cashman as a free agent signee, as was previously reported. Toss in Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and the groundskeepers, but that whole scenario reminds me of looking for gold when you have silver in your hands.
If anything, Brian Cashman is pragmatic, and he will not let the shockwaves of losing Ohtani affect his overall thinking, and most of all, the plan he has to bring a World Championship to New York now rather than later. CC Sabathia checks all the boxes to help the Yankees to accomplish the task.
Ironically, Ohtani is suddenly the past and Sabathia is the present. And when you think about it, how is that so bad?