New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia fell two innings short of a threshold that would have earned him a $500,000 bonus after getting ejected in the sixth inning of his final start of the 2018 regular season. But according to the club’s final luxury pax payroll, Sabathia was paid the bonus anyway.
Sabathia’s one-year deal for the 2018 season included half-million dollar bonuses for reaching 155, 165, 175 and 185 innings. Entering his September 27 start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sabathia had to pitch seven innings — a mark he’d reached in just four of his 29 starts.
The veteran lefty was cruising with five scoreless, one-hit innings, but then he got tangled in a feud between the teams.
Sabathia hit Rays first baseman Jake Bauers on his right hand in the fifth inning, and Rays righty Andrew Kittredge retaliated by throwing behind Yankees catcher Austin Romine’s head at the top of the next frame. Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza issued a warning to both teams and promptly ejected Sabathia after he planted a 93-mph fastball on Jesus Sucre’s left leg to start the bottom of the frame.
“I don’t really make decisions based on money, I guess,” Sabathia said after the game. “I just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wanted to keep the news of the bonus private, although both sides happily talked about the bonus once it became public. The gesture of good will was certainly not lost on the 38-year-old, who re-signed with the Bronx Bombers for one year and $8 million in November for what will be his final season.
“We thought it was a very nice gesture by the Yankees,” Sabathia’s agent, Kyle Thousand of Roc Nation Sports, told The Associated Press on Monday. “CC was very appreciative and is really excited to come back next year and, hopefully, win a championship.”
Yankees’ decision reminiscent of Phil Hughes
Just four years earlier in 2014, a similar situation played out with former Yankees prospect Phil Hughes. The Minnesota Twins right-hander was set to earn a $500,000 bonus for pitching 210 innings and entered his final start with 201 2/3 innings.
Hughes was outstanding against the Arizona Diambondbacks, throwing eight innings of one-run ball, and seemed ready to go for the complete game with just 96 pitches under his belt. However, the weather would not have it, as a 66-minute rain delay before the ninth inning ended his night with 209 2/3 innings on the season.
Then-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered to let Hughes record one out in the team’s final four games, but Hughes politely turned down the offer. Hughes did earn $250,000 bonuses earlier in the season for reaching 180 and 195 innings on top of his $8 million salary.
“I just didn’t think it was right,” Hughes said before the team’s game the next day. “If I were fighting for a playoff spot, I’d 100 percent be available. But given the circumstances, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
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