NEW YORK — Plunking an opponent paid off for CC Sabathia.
The New York Yankees gave Sabathia a $500,000 performance bonus, even though the 38-year-old left-hander was ejected from his final regular-season start six outs shy of the 155 innings specified in his contract for the payment.
Sabathia hit Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre starting the sixth inning on Sept. 27 with his 55th pitch of the night, retaliation for Andrew Kittredge throwing a pitch behind Austin Romine in the top half.
“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.”
Neither side announced the decision, which became evident when the $500,000 was included in the Yankees’ final luxury tax payroll.
“It was something that we did very private and weren’t looking to publicize, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Sabathia hit Jake Bauers on the knuckles of his right hand with an 88 mph fastball with two outs in the fifth inning. Kittredge threw a 93 mph fastball behind Romine’s neck with his initial pitch in the sixth, and plate umpire Vic Carapazza issued a warning to both benches. Sabathia started out of the Yankees dugout and had to be intercepted by manager Aaron Boone.
After New York opened an 11-0 lead, Sabathia hit Sucre the lower left leg with a 93 mph cutter on his first pitch in the bottom half, causing Carapazza to eject the pitcher and Boone.
“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.”
Sabathia had a $10 million base salary last year. He re-signed with the Yankees for an $8 million salary and said 2019 will be his final season.
Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, is 246-153 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,986 strikeouts in 18 major league seasons. He was 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts last season.