Luis Severino’s contract is proof the Yankees need more pitching in next couple of years
Luis Severino could be gone after 2022. The Yankees need another starter before then.
Starting pitching — aside from the 2008 offseason and last offseason — has eluded the New York Yankees for what feels like forever. This team can seemingly never properly fortify its starting rotation with ace-like options (or even just mostly effective options!), and despite Gerrit Cole’s presence, it’s still potentially going to be a problem for years.
Luis Severino was supposed to be the stable No. 2 behind Cole, but offseason Tommy John surgery derailed his 2020 campaign and now he won’t return until June at the earliest. You have to think 2021 will be spent trying to get the right-hander back on track following his recovery.
Why does this complicate everything? Because Severino is only guaranteed to be a Yankee through 2022 (he has a $15 million team option for 2023 that New York will surely decline if he isn’t back to form) and, entering his age-27 season, he doesn’t have much time to prove himself and meet those high expectations.
Yes, Severino was an All-Star in 2017 and 2018 after putting forth two Cy Young-worthy campaigns, but we still only have a 99-game sample size — 11 of those are relief appearances in 2016 — from the hard-throwing Dominican. And if we’re talking postseason effectiveness, his 5.17 ERA in eight starts isn’t exactly what you want. He does get a bit of a leash there because all of those outings came when he was 25 or younger, but they cannot be ignored.
But throw in the fact there’s now a 1.5-year timeline for Sevy to make up for lost time and prove he can be a mainstay behind one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, and the Yankees officially have a problem on their hands. There really isn’t an abundance of options aside from Trevor Bauer (and no thank you) across the next two offseasons for general manager Brian Cashman to fill the void, either.
The Yankees weren’t expecting to get blindsided by Severino’s elbow injury, especially after they thought they got themselves a bargain with his four-year, $40 million extension. Everything was lining up nicely, but in typically fashion, it’s now all up in the air.
It’s certainly possible Severino rebounds and remains a top starter for the Bombers, but this is no doubt an uphill battle for all parties involved. And it doesn’t give the front office a clear plan for the pitching staff during the team’s prime window to win a World Series.