CC Sabathia was courted by several teams this off-season before ultimately re-signing with the New York Yankees. One such club was the AL East-rival Toronto Blue Jays, whose front office openly spoke about the intangibles the veteran left-hander offers.
Sabathia says he wanted to remain a Yankee all along, but once the club added reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in December, things became even more concrete in his mind.
The 17-year MLB veteran discussed his free agency on a recent episode of his Players’ Tribune Podcast R2C2 and was asked by co-host Ryan Ruocco if he could imagine pitching to the 2018 Yankees lineup.
“No. Absolutely not. And that’s why I wouldn’t have gone to the Blue Jays. If I’m going to be in the East, I’m going to be on the best team,” Sabathia said with a laugh. “I’m not coming to Yankee Stadium and getting my ass kicked.”
Sabathia, 37, mentioned that he met with a few teams who coveted his leadership abilities and the potential impact it would have on players. He didn’t specify which teams, though it was reported that the Blue Jays met with him during the winter meetings.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins wouldn’t confirm a meeting with Sabathia, but did tell Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair in December that he admired the southpaw.
“CC is, first and foremost, an incredible human being, incredible professional, remarkable career,” said Atkins. “The impact he’s had on the game, certainly on the Yankees, the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, every person he touches, he’s just one of the better stories, one of the better human beings in baseball.”
“All of those intangibles, you can’t pay enough for,” he added. “You have to be smart because you have to build a team, it’s not just about one person. But I can’t say enough about the impact he has had on the game and could potentially have on the Blue Jays and whether or not that fits for us, time will tell.”
Atkins and Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro have a longstanding relationship with Sabathia from their days with the Cleveland Indians.