In Game 5 of the ALDS, CC Sabathia pitched in relief for the first time in his major league career. Was it the last time he will ever pitch as a Yankee?
Sabathia, 31, has an opt-out clause in his seven-year, $161 million contract that he can use to make himself a free agent. Since spring training, Sabathia has refused to say whether he'll use the opt-out. He has four years and $92 million remaining on his current contract.
After the Yankees' ALDS Game 5 loss Thursday night, Sabathia said "a lot" will go into his decision, starting with his family and "everything that matters."
"We just have to wait and see," Sabathia said.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already pegged keeping Sabathia as a top priority.
"He is our ace," Cashman said. "He ranks highly."
Sabathia finished this regular season at 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA. In his 1 1/3 innings in relief in Game 5, he allowed a run, which raised his ERA for the series to 6.23 in 8 2/3 innings of work.
Sabathia has been worth his money thus far. In 2009, his first season with the club, he led the Yankees to the World Series title by pitching on three days' rest throughout the postseason. Over his three seasons, Sabathia is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA.
"I love it," Sabathia said when asked about playing in the Bronx. "I've loved this since Day 1 that I got here."
The question the Yankees will wrestle with is if Sabathia can continue this pace. Sabathia has consistently been among the league leaders in innings pitched. He has thrown nearly 1,000 innings already, including the postseason, the past three years.
In spring training, he arrived 25 pounds lighter, but during the season he appeared to put on some weight.
The Yankees originally gave Sabathia the opt-out clause to ease any fears he had in coming to the Bronx.
The team and Sabathia could work out an extension before Sabathia can negotiate with other teams after the World Series. A glum Sabathia slouched in the clubhouse as he contemplated the season's finality.
"It's stunning," Sabathia said. "It's always tough when you lose."