The New York Yankees avoided temptation this offseason. The team was expected to make move for big names like David Price, Zack Greinke and even Jeff Samardzija, but instead they stayed put with their current rotation. The team added depth to the closer role by acquiring Aroldis Chapman, but in terms of starters they are counting on productive returns from their players of 2015. However, not everyone is guaranteed a return to the starting rotation.
According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN.com, CC Sabathia is not guaranteed to be a starter in 2016. The pitcher struggled at the start of the year before ending on a high note in terms of production, but a low not in terms of personal issues. Sabathia cut his season short to enter rehab for alcohol issues and now is hoping to get back on the mound and return to form. However, general manager Brian Cashman is not ready to agree with Sabathia as a demotion to the bullpen could be looming.
"It wouldn't be difficult at all," Cashman said, via ESPN.com. "If he doesn't deserve it, I have no problem with [telling him]. If that kind of performance continues, who knows?"
Sabathia is owed $25 million this season with a $25 million option for 2017. Cutting ties with the pitcher would see the Yankees eating a lot of money which is why the team would rather demote the pitcher if he continues to struggle. Losing Adam Warren opens the door for a drop to the bullpen, but doubt elsewhere in the starting rotation means Sabathia is still needed as a potential ace.
There is no question that there is lingering doubt in the starting rotation for the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova are all coming off of injuries. Michael Pineda struggled with consistency. The only guarantee might be Luis Severino who the team was careful not to trade in the offseason. Cashman is confident in Tanaka and Eovaldi returning to form, but Nova remains a potential trade target heading into spring training.
With Bryan Mitchell in the mix, the Yankees can afford to trade Nova if a deal presents itself. ESPN.com reported that the pitcher has been available since the offseason began, but no one is biting on his potential. Following Tommy John surgery, Nova was not the same pitcher and went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA on the season. That weakened his value along with his $4.1 million contract next season. If the Yankees can get a trade, they might not hesitate to make the move.