Does CC Sabathia have Trade Value?

We now live in a world where C.C. Sabathia has made 11 starts, pitched 65.1 innings, has allowed just 2 home runs, and features a 2.20 ERA (3.29 FIP).

Since returning from the disabled list on May 20, Sabathia has made six starts and posted a 0.97 ERA in 37 innings, with 35 Strikeouts and just 23 hits allowed.  In that span, opponents are batting just .176 and slugging just .221.  C.C. Sabathia, in other words, has turned nearly every opposing batter into the equivalent of an opposing pitcher at the plate.

Normally, these kind of numbers for a team that is currently in last place would scream “trade.” But does Sabathia have trade value?

Sabathia’s contract pays him about $10 million for the remainder of this season and carries a vesting option of $25 million for 2017.  The option carries a $5 million buyout, but vests automatically if he 1) does not end 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, 2) does not spend more than 45 days on the disabled list in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury, or 3) does not make more than 6 relief appearances in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury.

With Sabathia’s velocity topping out at 94 MPH on Thursday night against the Twins, his left shoulder seems fine, and the option seems likely.   So what are the odds that a team would want to add Sabathia at the trade deadline? Let’s look at the factors:

  1. Sabathia has a full no-trade clause.  Even if he didn’t, he has 10-5 rights (at least 10 years in the league, and at least the last 5 with the same team) and can veto any trade.  But would he agree to a trade to a contender for another shot at a title?  Would he accept a deal to the west coast, closer to his roots? The Dodgers, Mariners, Giants, and Rangers are all in contention and could all use pitching.  The Dodgers likely have the most to spend, and the Rangers likely need him the most with the uncertain health of Yu Darvish.
  2. If he were to agree to a trade, what could he bring back of value?  Likely not much in terms of players, given his age, knee/alcoholism history, and 2014-2015 production.  However, salary relief to the Yankees would be nearly as valuable and allow them to promote Luis Severino back into the rotation to work on his stuggles at the big league level.

One thing is for sure, Sabathia has been excellent as of late, and should the Yankees fall out of contention, he could be an interesting option for contenders if he continues to pitch well over the next five weeks.


Derek Levandowski


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