CC Sabathia did an interview with Sportsnet this week and talked about his respect for Mark Shapiro, and the time he almost became a Blue Jay.
It can be a lot of fun to think about “what might have been”, especially when it comes to roster moves that the Blue Jays could have made over the years. If you’re like me and enjoy that sorta thing, CC Sabathia offered an interesting nugget on his recent appearance on Sportsnet the Fan 590 with Bennis Ennis and JD Bunkis.
Sabathia finished his likely Hall-of-Fame resume with an 11-year stretch playing for the New York Yankees, however, there was a time near the end of his career that he was rumoured to be close to joining the Blue Jays. Most of the time we don’t get to find out how close these deals were to coming to fruition, but Sabathia was kind enough to share some thoughts and recollections from a few years ago.
Hearing the imposing southpaw tell it, he was very much considering the Blue Jays as an option, and a lot of it had to do with the relationship he had with Mark Shapiro and how much he respects him. The two had worked together back in their Cleveland days, and Sabathia speaks very highly of the Blue Jays’ President and CEO.
When asked how close he was to joining the Blue Jays as a free agent back in 2017, Sabathia had this to say:
“Oh yeah it was a real thing, and it’s because of my relationship with Mark Shapiro. Going back to the (Cleveland) days, you know, he drafted me and pretty much became like a father figure in my life. Ever since then, you know, I still talk to him to this day, so yeah, when I was a free agent that was the first place that I thought of.”
And was it ever more than a passing thought from Sabathia? Apparently there was some truth to the rumours at the time.
‘Even going through free agency in 2008, I would call him and get his advice and just run things through him, even as a player that he had just traded me from (Cleveland) to the Brewers, I mean, that just goes to show you our relationship. So yeah, we took a meeting and talked to Ross and him, but at the end of the day my family was growing up and it was just kinda easier to stay here. Obviously I’m staying here after I’m done playing, but it was Toronto and Minnesota were two real places that I thought about it, if I had to leave, those were two places that I definitely would have went.”
At the end of the day, it makes all the sense in the world that Sabathia stuck around and finished his career in New York. The Yankees had treated him well, his family was comfortable there, and their prospects for the twilight of his career were better than what he would have seen in Toronto ahead of the 2018 season, after their playoff run with guys like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson had passed.
Still, it’s fun to think about what Sabathia might have looked like in a Blue Jays uniform. More importantly, it’s encouraging to hear another positive account of a player relationship with Mark Shapiro. Sometimes that can make the difference in whether or not you can sign a free agent, and an endorsement from a guy like Sabathia goes a long way.