CC Sabathia has signed a deal to join ESPN in 2019 even though he will still be on an active Major League Baseball roster. The New York Yankees pitcher told reporters at Spring Training that he will make 15 appearances across a variety of programs on The Mothership during the season on days he isn’t scheduled to pitch.
A press release from ESPN offered some more details from the deal.
Sabathia will contribute analysis to various high-profile ESPN platforms this season, including on SportsCenter, Get Up!, First Take, Golic & Wingo and occasionally Baseball Tonight. He’ll appear in-studio for several of the appearances. In addition, he will periodically join ESPN Radio New York as a guest host on the Humpty & Canty show, which airs from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET. Sabathia will debut during ESPN’s spring training coverage in late March.ESPN press release
One interesting thing about the deal is that Sabathia will spend most of his air time talking about sports other than baseball.
Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing says that the deal may have a financial payoff for Sabathia, but it is a PR risk. There may even be some logistical problems that neither side has foreseen.
I can’t imagine Yankees fans would be too thrilled if he gets shelled in an April start, and two days later, he’s on Get Up talking about the NFL Draft, or if he’s on the disab….er, injured list, and is in studio on First Take debating about the NBA Playoffs. What happens if Sabathia is struggling and is moved to the bullpen? Will he still show up in the studio, even though he has no idea when he’ll pitch next?Joe Lucia, Awful Announcing
ESPN clearly sees Sabathia as a valuable broadcasting asset and signing him to a deal that allows him to work a limited schedule during his final season gives the network the jump on potential competition for his services. It remains to be seen what ESPN’s longterm plans for Sabathia are, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the pitcher slide into a more dedicated MLB analyst role after his official retirement.