CC Sabathia staying with Yanks

Updated: November 1, 2011, 3:58 PM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- For CC Sabathia, there's no better place to pitch than Yankee Stadium.

The big left-hander decided to stay with New York rather than test the free-agent market, agreeing Monday to a new deal that adds $30 million and one season to his existing contract, giving him a package that pays $122 million over the next five years.

"My son loves it here. All my kids love it here. My wife loves it here, obviously, and I do, too. I love pitching for the Yankee fans and everything, so it was the easy choice," Sabathia said during a conference call.

The 31-year-old had until midnight to opt out of his current agreement, which had $92 million remaining over the next four years, with annual salaries of $23 million.

Sabathia will be paid $25 million in 2016, which is the final year of the new contract, the source said. The deal contains a vesting option for $25 million in 2017 with a $5 million buyout solely on the condition of his shoulder because the Yankees have some concern about a pre-existing condition.

Sabathia, who also retains a hotel suite on trips, a no-trade provision and the right to buy tickets, will qualify for the vesting option as long as he spends less than 45 days on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in 2016.

Terms of the deal were first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

"It was just more time. That's all it was. It was never a question about money or anything like that," Sabathia said. "I just want to end my career here. I want to make sure I end my career as a Yankee and, hopefully, I've done that."

Sabathia agreed to a $161 million, seven-year deal with New York before the 2009 season. He has gone 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA during the regular season for the Yankees.

"CC is the ace of our pitching staff, a leader in our clubhouse and a driving force for the Yankees in our community," Yankees senior vice president and general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement released by the team. "He is exactly the type player and person that Yankees fans and this organization can be proud of. We are excited that he will be wearing the pinstripes for many years to come."

Both sides clearly worked hard to avert an opt-out, with Cashman going underground for the weekend, unavailable to the media since last Thursday, and team president Randy Levine refusing to comment.

Sabathia's agent, Brian Peters, was also incommunicado, lending credence to the belief that both team and player were locked into intense negotiations.

The two sides never met face to face, but an offer was "transmitted" Friday to Peters that was "close" to the final deal. Peters, who flew to New York this week and stayed at Sabathias's home in North Jersey, came back with a counteroffer and "a lot of ground was covered between 5 and 6 p.m. on Monday," a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews.

According to the source, the Yankees were "surprised" that Sabathia chose not to opt out, but added, "I think there were other teams that might have matched the $92 million the Yankees owed Sabathia on existing contract, but I don't think there were many that would have guaranteed him $122 million."

In 2008, Sabathia's $161 million deal to join the Yankees was the largest ever for a starter. However, the Philadelphia Phillies gave Cliff Lee an average annual salary of $24 million for five seasons. On his original contract, Sabathia's average salary was $23 million per season.

The Yankees originally put in the opt-out clause to give Sabathia an escape hatch in case he did not like the Bronx. At the time, there was a strong feeling throughout the industry that Sabathia wanted to play in his home state of California.

A native of the San Francisco Bay area, Sabathia and his wife, Amber, often have spoken of their affection for New York City and their desire to remain here. This past spring training, however, he hedged on that pledge, then declined to answer questions about it throughout the season.

Monday night, Sabathia said the key for him was his family "and making sure everything was kosher with them" with living in the New York area. Then he learned what it was like pitching in the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium.

"The energy, what you get coming out the bullpen, the fans," he said. "Everything it is it is to be pitching in New York, in the Bronx. It's just so much fun. To be part of this organization is just a dream for me."

If Sabathia had opted for free agency, he clearly would have been the top starting pitcher on the market.

After Sabathia, the Rangers' C.J. Wilson, Japanese standout Yu Darvish, Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle and the Phillies' Roy Oswalt are some of the other top free-agent starters.

A team first will have to win the posting to Darvish's Japanese team before it can negotiate with the right-hander.

Sabathia went 19-8 for the Yankees in 2011 and has won 59 games for them in three seasons, including 21 in 2010. But his effectiveness diminished in the second half of this past season and he was unable to win a ballgame in the ALDS, which the Yankees lost in five games to the Detroit Tigers.

Still, it was imperative for the Yankees that Sabathia return to their rotation, because they have only two other established starters, Ivan Nova and A.J. Burnett, in the fold for 2012, and only one -- Nova -- is considered reliable.

Sabathia, the 2007 Cy Young Award winner as a member of the Cleveland Indians, has thrown an average of 240 innings in each of his past five seasons and has one of the most durable arms in baseball.

Sabathia entered spring training this year looking much trimmer -- which he attributed in part to cutting down on Cap'n Crunch -- but by the end of the season appeared heavier, and his conditioning was questioned. Sabathia had offseason knee surgery last year, but has not been hurt in the regular season as a Yankee.

Sabathia said he plans on losing weight.

"It's something I do regardless, and be proactive," he said. "I just need to go out and be healthy and try to do what I can to be up there for every start for this team. For me, that means losing weight, so that's what I'll do."

Sabathia's first three years, in the words of manager Joe Girardi, have been "spectacular." He and the Yankees wanted them to continue -- and now they will.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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