"He'll get it cleaned up and obviously it will end his season," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Hopefully, next year will be a different story."
Sabathia, who turns 34 on Monday, has not pitched in the big leagues since May 10, when he started against the Brewers at Miller Park and was sent for an MRI that showed degenerative conditions in his right knee.
"It's sad to see a guy go down like that," Carlos Beltran said. "He's young, so we're hoping that he can recuperate soon and be ready for next year."
Sabathia has struggled the past two years, going a combined 17-17 with a 4.87 ERA. He was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA this season and attempted to rehab with the aid of a stem cell injection, but experienced more knee issues after making a Minor League start for Double-A Trenton on July 2.
"We thought we were going to get him back," manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees' 4-3 victory over the Reds on Friday night. "He was throwing the ball, we had rehabbed him and gotten him up to 55 pitches. We had even talked about him throwing right before the All-Star break; we had kind of lined it up that way.
"It's extremely unfortunate. The big thing is that we get him back healthy. Hopefully, this surgery takes care of it, and moving forward, next year he gets his 32 starts."
Sabathia also visited Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister before deciding to have surgery.
Cashman took some solace in that Sabathia is not having microfracture surgery, which has produced mixed results in athletes. Cashman described the upcoming procedure more as a cleanup.
"It doesn't mean that's not off the table," Cashman said. "I just think that anyone who looks at that circumstance realizes that it's a bad thing. There's no predictable outcome. Some people say, 'Hey, it could work.' But it's one of those things you don't want to mess with if you can avoid it."
Cashman said that Sabathia also has a cyst behind his right knee, and that some consideration was given to draining it and attempting rehab again. Ultimately, the choice was made to go forward with surgery and roll the clock ahead to 2015.
"Because we're in July, I think he'll come into Spring Training, in theory, ready to go," Cashman said. "Given the number of things that have gone on, we'll have to be careful with him nonetheless."
The Yankees have lost 80 percent of their Opening Day starting rotation, with Sabathia and Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) out for the year. Michael Pineda (right shoulder) is rehabbing and hopes to return in August, and Masahiro Tanaka (partial UCL tear in right elbow) is beginning a six-week rehab program.
Since signing with the Yankees before the 2009 season, Sabathia is 91-46 with a 3.59 ERA in 169 regular-season games with New York, claiming an '09 World Series ring.
He is in the third year of a five-year, $122 million extension that was agreed upon after the 2011 season; Sabathia will earn $23 million in '15, $25 million in '16 and has a vesting option worth $25 million in '17 that contains a $5 million buyout.
"He's a horse. He's a top-of-the-rotation guy," catcher Brian McCann said. "He's been like that his whole career, and we just hope he'll recover and come back as soon as possible."