New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who is owed $25 million for the 2016 season, might be headed to the bullpen.
The Yankees are considering dropping Sabathia from the rotation, according to ESPN.com.
Sabathia, the 35-year-old former ace, gave up two runs over five innings, striking out four while allowing six hits and a walk, in the Yankees' 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday night.
"I think he's competing and I think he wants it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. "We're going to do the best we can leaving spring training and if we have to re-evaluate we will."
Sabathia was coming off a struggling start last Friday against the Baltimore Orioles in which his ERA jumped to 7.36 after giving up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. He had two bullpen sessions between starts to work on his change-up.
"Got some good groundballs from it, a couple swing and misses," Sabathia said Thursday night. "So, I'll continue to keep working, and hopefully it just keeps getting better and better. It's going to be a pitch I need this year.
"You want to have good starts, obviously, but it's March. I keep saying I can't put too much stock in it. I'm feeling good. A lot better than I felt at this time last year."
Sabathia and right-hander Ivan Nova are fighting for the last spot in the rotation and one of them is expected to be a reliever.
Nova's 4.05 ERA is more than a full run better than Sabathia's 5.84 ERA this spring training.
"This is a hard decision," Girardi said. "CC has meant so much to this club. Nova has been here. It is something that has to be well thought out."
Sabathia also is owed $25 million in 2017 if he attains a likely-to-be-earned option.
Sabathia announced in early October before the Yankees' American League wild-card playoff loss to the Houston Astros that he was leaving the team to enter a treatment facility for alcoholism.
Sabathia struggled with a chronic knee injury last season and finished with a 6-10 record and a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts.