As Retirement Nears, Yankees Star CC Sabathia Experiments With ESPN Deal

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While New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia will look to add another World Series title to his trophy case, he’s thinking about the future by inking a deal with ESPN.

Having already announced that he will retire at the end of the 2019 season, Sabathia will contribute to ESPN on various platforms. Maxx Sports & Entertainment Group President Mark Lepselter negotiated the deal on Sabathia’s behalf.

Sabathia will join a variety of shows throughout the season, including “SportsCenter,” “Get Up!,” “First Take,” “Golic & Wingo” and occasionally “Baseball Tonight.” He’ll also make periodic guest appearances on ESPN Radio New York’s “Humpty & Canty” show.

He will debut later this month and appear from ESPN’s New York-based studios.

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Sabathia is an avid sports fan and recently told reporters at spring training that he wants to have the ability to talk all sports, not just MLB.

ESPN has shown genuine excitement as it welcomes Sabathia, and Lepselter said he feels “this will be a great opportunity for CC to begin to figure out exactly what he wants to do in his post-playing career, broadcasting-wise.”

“We’re excited to work with CC, especially as part of this unique arrangement during the final year of his storied career,” said Dave Roberts, ESPN vice president of production.

“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.”

Lepselter said he believes this is somewhat of a pioneering deal, bringing a current player with a long list of accolades to a network such as ESPN during the season.

Lepselter did mention a similar dynamic with his longtime client Tiki Barber and FOX News during the 2005 and 2006 NFL seasons when he was still among the league’s elite running backs. Other Maxx Sports & Entertainment Group clients include former NFL receiver Nate Burleson; former NFL safety Rodney Harrison; former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson; former MLB first baseman Carlos Pena; former NHL forward Jeremy Roenick; and CBS Sports host and reporter Melanie Collins.

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“It’s a unique situation,” Lepselter said. “I can’t speak for everyone, but as more and more athletes come down the back end of their careers, in the world we live in today, athletes are looking at different opportunities while they are still on the big stage.”

Since making his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 2001, Sabathia has led the majors in wins twice and won the American League Cy Young in 2007. He won the 2009 World Series during his first season with the Yankees.

Sabathia is within reach of 3,000 strikeouts and 250 wins as he enters his 19th season.

While the focus on his future is strong, Sabathia won’t let it derail his main goal of team success for the pinstripes.

“As I begin to look toward the future, I’m excited to have this opportunity with ESPN,” Sabathia said. “With that said, my singular focus is on winning another World Series championship for Yankees fans and the city of New York.”