CC Sabathia’s new contract includes no incentive clause for him to stay under a certain weight, but after signing him to a five-year extension, the Yankees did meet with Sabathia to discuss his size.
“CC is one of our hardest workers, he really is,” Brian Cashman said. “He’s obviously a big man, and he’s pitched with weight his whole career, and some people do that. But obviously, over time, you have to be careful and watch your diet. That was the focal point of our conversation, just being educated on what’s good and what isn’t good.”
Sabathia showed up having obvoiusly lost weight this winter, and he estimated that he dropped 10 to 15 pounds, but Sabathia also showed up noticeably slimmer last spring only to put on much of that weight during the season. He said his weight had nothing to do with his second-half struggles, but he’d like to do a better job keeping the weight off this season.
“Our schedule’s so crazy,” Sabathia said. “Wake up at all kinds of crazy hours. Go to bed at crazy hours. So it’s up to me to make sure I get a good routine, keep it, and maintain it through the whole season… It’s just something that’s up to me to maintain, and I’ve got a lot of help around here, so it shouldn’t be hard.”
Cashman said weight issues were not “whatsoever” a part of the Yankees contract negotations with Sabathia. As Cashman put it, “We wanted CC. We needed CC. We love CC.” Cashman also isn’t sure whether weight had an impact on Sabathia’s subpar finish last season, but just in case, he wanted to have the conversation after the contract was signed.
“CC’s never let us down,” Cashman said. “He’s the type of person that’s fully committed, so I think the only hard part is to have those conversations. The easy part is watching him follow through. CC is the kind of person who will make the change.”
Here’s Cashman’s lengthy explanation of why he doesn’t believe weight-related incentive clauses work:
“I don’t believe in that,” Cashman said. “Personally, I’ve lived through it in the past. We’ve had weight clauses with Bob Wickman and Jim Leyritz and other guys. In Wickman’s case, my recollection would be on the first and 15th of every month, he would have to be a certain weight. So he’d be in our bullpen drinking water, sitting in saunas, dieting, doing everything he can to lose weight, maybe even sticking his finger down his throat to make the weight. And then, all of a sudden, our manager might be asking him to pitch the seventh inning, and you’re not getting a real player at that point. You’re getting a drawn-out guy trying to make a $30,000 bonus or whatever it was at the time. So I think those things are counterproductive.
“When you make a decision to go forward with somebody those things have to be separate and distinct. You have to recognize that everybody’s built differently. I remember we got Jonathan albaladjo from the Pirates. He threw really hard, and we made a weight issue, he took a lot of weight off and he lost his fastball. So the next year, we weren’t as determined to crush the weight on him, he put the weight back on, and his fastball came back. So it’s one of those things. People are really different, mechanics are different, but you just try to manage it. I felt those weight clauses were well-intended, but the byproduct of what happened wasn’t best for the team or that individual by trying to force something. Guys would starve themselves two days before to make the weight, and then cost us a game because he shouldn’t have even been out there competing.”
Associated Press photo