CC Sabathia narrowly missed a half-a-million-dollar bonus in 2018 by sticking up for his teammate. The New York Yankees did the right thing and gave it to him anyway.
“It was something that we did very private and weren’t looking to publicize, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Cashman and his front-office crew likely don’t want the baseball world to get the wrong impression. After all, the payment looks like a reward for behavior that the MLB punished.
That behavior went down on September 27, 2018.
Sabathia was cruising against the Tampa Bay Rays, just two innings away from achieving the 155 total he needed to collect $500,000. But the big lefty had more important business to attend to.
Earlier in the game, he had come too far inside and hit first baseman Jake Bauers. Rays’ reliever Andrew Kittredge responded by throwing at Austin Romine’s head. Sabathia couldn’t allow this targeting of his catcher go unchecked, so he drilled Rays’ backstop Jesus Sucre in the leg.
When Sabathia was ejected, everyone thought he had lost his bonus along with his cool. He also incurred a 5-game suspension, which he’s scheduled to serve at the beginning of the 2019 season.
It turns out that the Yankees—like many of their fans—interpreted Sabathia’s actions as heroic. On top of paying out the hefty bonus they didn’t have to, the Bombers gave him another $8 million to play one last season in the Bronx.
Next time something like this happens, the Yankees should issue a giant cardboard check and hold a press conference to present it. There’s no need for subtlety when your organization’s nickname is the Evil Empire.