In an unusual arrangement, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia will work as an analyst on ESPN TV and radio broadcasts during his final season in Major League Baseball.
Sabathia announced last month that 2019 will be his final season. A former Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion, Sabathia has pitched for the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians, breaking into the majors in 2001.
During the season, Sabathia will appear on SportsCenter, Get Up!, First Take, Golic & Wingo and occasionally Baseball Tonight, with several of those appearances planned to be in-studio. He will also periodically join ESPN Radio New York as a guest host on the Humpty & Canty show, which airs from 10AM to 1PM ET. Sabathia will make his broadcast debut during ESPN’s spring training coverage in late March.
The news about Sabathia follows Jason Witten’s decision to leave ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth and return to playing for the Dallas Cowboys. Both moves show how increasingly close the alignment is between pro athletes and media companies, with many active players wielding social-media influence and cultivating media interest at every stage of their playing careers.
“We’re excited to work with CC, especially as part of this unique arrangement during the final year of his storied career,” ESPN production VP Dave Roberts said. “He has proven to be highly knowledgeable, candid and perceptive about the sport of baseball, as well as an avid sports fan in general. That will translate well for fans across ESPN platforms.”
Yankee fans long accustomed to winning have grown restless in recent years, with the team’s last championship coming in 2009. New York’s total of 27 World Series titles leads the next-highest tally, by the St. Louis Cardinals, by 16, but it has one only one since 2001.
While he is a fan favorite and an important part of the team’s starting pitching rotation, Sabathia indicated the arrangement for 2019 is a sign of where he sees his future once his playing days have ended.
“As I begin to look toward the future, I’m excited to have this opportunity with ESPN,” he said. “With that said, my singular focus is on winning another World Series championship for Yankees fans and the city of New York.”