Sabathia will have season-ending arthroscopic surgery this Wednesday, but his doctors told him it should allow him to return for spring training.
"I was very concerned," said Sabathia, who turns 34 on Monday. "I told my wife last night, 'My season is over, but it was the first time was I able to get some real sleep,' just knowing that I don't have to have the microfracture and I can return next year."
Sabathia finished this season 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA. He has been plagued by a drastic loss in velocity on his fastball. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Dodgers team doctor Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery.
Sabathia said he will have six to eight weeks of recovery time and then can begin to prepare for 2015. The procedure should clean up the debris in the knee, but it won't cure Sabathia forever.
"It is something I'm probably going to have to deal with the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery," Sabathia said. "The goal is to keep playing, and this is the easiest way to do it."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that Sabathia still will eventually need microfracture.
Sabathia is owed $48 million over the next two seasons. He is also entitled to $25 million in 2017 if he avoids a shoulder injury, as per the terms of his contract.
Without the microfracture, Sabathia believes he can pitch past this current deal, based mostly on what ElAttrache told him.
"He feels good about it," Sabathia said. "[NBA player] Russell Westbrook had the same surgery and was able to come back. Obviously, you have to deal with a little bit of swelling here and there, but that is something I have to deal with. My goal is to pitch the next five or six years, past this contract. I'm confident that I can do that."
If Sabathia is able to regain his ace form, he might have a chance at 300 wins. He is 208-119. In Sabathia's five previous years with the Yankees, he has averaged 18 wins per season.
Sabathia said there was no particular reason for the initial right knee inflammation; it was just wear and tear.
"I'm fine with [the arthroscopic surgery,] moreso than microfracture in which I'm out for 18 months or whatever it is," Sabathia said. "If that is the case, that is the best-case scenario at my age and you look at all of the innings that I pitched. I'm fine with that."