But they are not obligated to reserve a spot in their 2016 rotation for the 35-year-old left-hander who just completed a rehab stint for alcohol abuse, and on Monday, general manager Brian Cashman implied Sabathia would have to earn a starting spot in spring training.
"We'll see,'' Cashman said when asked at baseball's GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, if Sabathia would be a part of the Yankees' rotation next season.
"We've got a lot of guys who are going to be vying for those five spots,'' Cashman said. "I'm not guaranteeing anybody anything.''
Cashman said Sabathia's recent stay in an alcohol rehab center -- he checked himself in for treatment the day after the Yankees' final game of the regular season following a reported weekend bender in Baltimore -- had nothing to do with his reticence to assure Sabathia a starting spot.
It had more to do, Cashman said, with the abundance of live arms in the Yankees' pitching staff. And, perhaps, with Sabathia's 6-10 record and 4.73 ERA in 2015.
Over the past three seasons, Sabathia has gone 23-27 with a 4.81 ERA while losing significant velocity on his fastball. He has also battled injury problems and has pitched for the past two seasons on an arthritic and degenerating right knee.
But after having the knee drained several times during the 2015 season and going on the disabled list in August, Sabathia, fitted with a new knee brace, rebounded with five good starts in September, going 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA over the last month of the season.
"I like what CC did for us down the stretch in September, once he got the knee brace perfected,'' Cashman said. "He was a successful pitcher for that short period of time and very effective. We took notice of it. So certainly the hope is that he would be a viable member of that rotation. Let's just see how the winter shakes out first.''
Appearing at a charity event in Manhattan last Friday, Sabathia said that despite spending a month in rehab, he has already begun working out for next season.
"I've only been out a week, and I've been playing catch every day,'' he said. "It's hard for me to stay away. This will be the first normal offseason I've had in a couple of years, so I'm going to be ready. My goal next year is to make all my starts and not go on the DL. I felt like if I could do that, my numbers will be there.''
Sabathia, who won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award as a member of the Cleveland Indians, has a career record of 214-129 and a 3.69 ERA. He is 97-56, 3.73 as a Yankee. His contract calls for him to be paid $25 million for 2016, with another $25 million option for 2017 that vests as long as Sabathia does not spend more than 45 days on the disabled list in 2016 with a left shoulder injury. If so, the Yankees must pay him a $5 million buyout.