Pretty much every MLB team will have to deal with the reality that a few of their players are headed to free agency. For many teams, the ability to keep all their players is just not feasible. In some cases, they will be losing role players or guys who were on short-term contracts. Others, though, are watching as franchise players and integral parts of organizations head into the free agent market, possibly for greener pastures.
Here’s a look at one important free agent from each team who played at least some part in their 2017 campaign.
Arizona Diamondbacks — J.D. Martinez, outfielder
He was only a Diamondback for a little over two months, but what an impact Martinez had. He took advantage of the friendly hitting environment to smack 29 home runs in 62 games, powering the Diamondbacks to the NLDS along the way. He’ll probably prove too expensive for Arizona to retain him, and they have bigger needs to fill anyway, but he won’t be easily forgotten. Martinez is said to be seeking a $200 million contract. Arizona will be weaker next season without his power, even if his tenure was a brief one.
Atlanta Braves — R.A. Dickey, pitcher
With only two free agents, Atlanta doesn’t have much to deal with in terms of departures. The team decided not to pick up the 43-year-old pitcher’s option for 2018, and Dickey may be considering retirement. His importance lies in the position he plays; in terms of ERA, he was the Braves’ best starting pitcher at 4.26. The Braves will be searching for someone established to replace him — their pitching disappointed last season, and they may think they have an outside chance of making a run in 2018.
Baltimore Orioles — Chris Tillman, pitcher
- Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Anibal Sanchez, Brandon Kintzler, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Santana, CC Sabathia, Chris Tillman, Daniel Nava, Dustin McGowan, Eric Hosmer, Greg Holland, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jake Arrieta, JD Martinez, Jhoulys Chacin, John Jaso, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Lance Lynn, Matt Belisle, Matt Cain, Mike Pelfrey, Mitch Moreland, Neil Walker, R.A. Dickey, Yu Darvish, Yunel Escobar, Zack Cozart
CC Sabathia is keeping his fingers crossed that Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to the Houston Astros wasn’t his final game with the New York Yankees.
After Sabathia took the season-ending defeat in Game 7 of the ALCS, he told reporters that he was hoping to return to the Yankees in 2018.
“I want to see this through,” said the veteran lefty, per Ashley Varela of HardballTalk. “This is where I want to play.”
Sabathia, 37, has finally reached the end of his contract with the Yankees after being with them for the last nine seasons. During his time in pinstripes, he has made three All-Star teams, led the league in wins twice, and won the World Series with them in 2009. Sabathia also had a resurgent 2017, going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA during the year before delivering some big playoff performances.
Nonetheless, Sabathia has seen a lot of age-related decline in velocity and arm strength in recent years, and the Yankees may not want to continue giving a roster spot to an old ex-workhorse. Given the ups and downs that the former Cy Young winner has endured in New York however, it would certainly be fitting for him to finish his career with the Bombers, practicality permitting.
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- CC Sabathia
The Major League Baseball postseason always produces superstars. Some of those who emerge are expected, while some are unlikely players who go from anonymity to household name overnight. That can happen thanks to a hot streak at the right time, a dramatic home run, a surprisingly great pitching performance, or some sterling defensive play.
Here is a list of 20 players who have been the standout players so far during the 2017 MLB playoffs.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
The potential AL MVP had a great regular season, and that has carried over into the postseason. Altuve, for as well-known and well-respected as he is across baseball, has never really had that signature moment or stretch of performances to really establish himself as a major star. In his only previous playoff series — the 2015 ALDS against Kansas City — he went just 3-for-22.
This year, he promptly opened his postseason with a three-homer game, and he hasn’t looked back since. He hit an astonishing .533 against Boston, and has only slightly cooled in the ALCS, hitting a mere .357. He’s a superstar now, and everyone is taking notice.
Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers
For much of his career, Puig has been better known for bat flips, off-field antics, and on-field mental errors than for star power on the field. Sure, he has always had spectacular plays in him, but it would be fair to say he had never put it all together. Not anymore.
Puig is having an absolutely dominant postseason, hitting .429 and driving in six runs in Los Angeles’s first six games. It’s too soon to say that he’s found something permanently — Puig has had hot stretches before — but if this keeps up, he’ll evolve into a superstar he once looked destined to become.
- Brandon Morrow, CC Sabathia, Dallas Keuchel, David Price, Didi Gregorius, Jay Bruce, Jose Altuve, Jose Quintana, Justin Turner, Justin Verlander, Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Taylor, MLB Playoffs 2017, Rafael Devers, Stephen Strasburg, Tommy Kahnle, Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish, Yuli Gurriel
CC Sabathia gave the New York Yankees exactly what they needed in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday.
Sabathia went six scoreless against the Houston Astros, allowing just three hits and four walks while striking out five for the win. He got into a tough spot during the top of the sixth with his team up 8-0.
Sabathia allowed a leadoff infield single to Carlos Correa. He got the next two batters out, but Marwin Gonzalez reached on an error, allowing Correa to move to third. That brought Josh Reddick up with runners on the corners and two outs. Sabathia got Reddick to ground out to him and was so fired up he was seen yelling afterwards:
CC Sabathia with some words for Josh Reddick after that at bat pic.twitter.com/Gg88BolS5l
— Matt Hammond (@MattHammondShow) October 17, 2017
That was a big spot for Sabathia and he escaped. He more than did his job, so he had a right to be fired up afterwards.
Sabathia, backed by 3-run home runs from Aaron Judge and Todd Frazier, allowed the bullpen a good chance to rest ahead of Games 4 and 5.
- CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia on Friday responded to Jim Rice in the latest development of a back-and-forth between the two.
Sabathia got the win Thursday as his New York Yankees topped the Boston Red Sox 6-2 in the first of a key four-game series between the franchises. The southpaw was upset both during and after the game about the Red Sox trying to bunt on him and take advantage of a shaky knee that landed the pitcher on the disabled list.
After the game, Rice, a Red Sox Hall of Famer and current NESN analyst, told Sabathia to stop complaining and instead go on a diet.
— Tom Caron (@TomCaron) September 1, 2017
Word of Rice’s criticism got back to Sabathia, who referred to the former outfielder as “bitter.”
Sabathia on Jim Rice comments: "I just hope when I'm that age I'm not that bitter."
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) September 1, 2017
Who had Jim Rice and CC Sabathia being at the center of a controversy between the rival clubs this weekend? Things should only get more interesting in the next three games of the series.
The Boston Red Sox decided to come out bunting against CC Sabathia on Thursday night, and saying the New York Yankees pitcher did not agree with the strategy would be an understatement.
In the first inning, Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez reached base by laying down a bunt and forcing an errant throw to first from Sabathia. The next two batters walked to load the bases, but Sabathia got out of the jam. After the lefty retired the side, he screamed toward the Boston dugout to express his discontent over Nunez bunting.
“It’s just kind of weak to me,” Sabathia said after the game, via John Harper of the New York Daily News. “It shows me what they’ve got over there.”
Sabathia, 37, has a bad right knee that has forced him to wear a brace. The brace helps eliminate pain he used to deal with when landing on his right leg, but he’s a big guy who didn’t move around well before the knee problems. He felt the Red Sox were being cowards for trying to take advantage of his lack of mobility.
“I think they just think I’m a bigger guy who can’t field my position, so ‘we’re going to try to bunt instead of swinging the bat,'” Sabathia said. “I mean, they have a really good lineup. I want to go out and compete against them. I just feel like sometimes they don’t want to. … Scared. I mean, let’s go, let’s play. Swing the bat.”
The Red Sox are trying to win the AL East, and they currently have a 4.5-game over the Yankees after New York’s 6-2 win on Thursday. It seems absurd that Sabathia is calling them out for exploiting his weakness in a situation like that. He told reporters that Nunez — a former teammate — apologized before his second at-bat, but Nunez’s take on the situation told a different story.
Núñez on his bunt: “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not our problem.”
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 1, 2017
Núñez said his apology was more “I'm sorry, but I have to do it…. If I have to bunt four times, I'd do it. I don't care if he's mad."
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 1, 2017
Unfortunately for fans of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, Sabathia barking at the Boston dugout didn’t lead to any fireworks. He wouldn’t have been worried if they did.
“I don’t give a f— about their reaction,” the former Cy Young Award winner said. “I don’t care what they have to say. I’m out there early every day. If they’ve got something to say, we can meet in center field.”
Sabathia said he doesn’t have any personal issues with anyone on the Red Sox roster, but it’s no secret he has some problems with the city of Boston. He has dominated the Red Sox this season, so perhaps he felt he earned the right to call them out.
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New Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian drew some cross-sport inspiration in his battle with alcoholism.
Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Sarkisian revealed that watching an October 2015 SportsCenter feature on New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who also struggled with the disease, inspired him to seek treatment.
“I was actually at home on a Sunday night and I was watching SportsCenter, and Scott Van Pelt was doing his editorial,” said Sarkisian, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “That night was when CC Sabathia had decided to go to treatment before the Major League Baseball playoffs. I thought to myself, ‘Whoa, here’s somebody who is like me, who is in a very high-profile position in sports – ace pitcher of the New York Yankees — and was being relatively commended or almost celebrated for going to do what he did.’
“I knew I needed to [go],” he continued. “I didn’t know how to go about it. But that thing gave me a feeling of, ‘There’s a like person that is going to do this. I know I need to do it. Now how, what, when.’ So I made the decision to go do it. It’s been the best decision of my life.”
Sarkisian’s drinking problem led to his firing as head football coach of the USC Trojans the very same month that feature aired. But after entering treatment, he bounced back by landing an assistant job at Alabama before making the leap to the NFL last February with the defending NFC champion Falcons. As for Sabathia, whose struggles at the time were equally troubling, he continues to produce for the Yankees post-treatment as he nears age 37, and it’s definitely great to see both men land on their feet again.