Luis Severino is about to enter his most important season with the New York Yankees. More important than his 2017 season, otherwise known as his rebound from a 5.83 ERA in 71 innings that nearly took him off the prospect map.
More important than his late-season surge in 2019 that gave him postseason starts in a year that was nearly lost altogether.
Because, in 2017, Severino had the security of time (and pedigree). In 2019, he had the financials. Entering 2022, he could be approaching a chance to solidify his long-rumored spot as the Yankees’ No. 2 or he could be pitching himself out of the Bronx through either inconsistency or a lack of availability.
This time, Severino is staring down the barrel of a $15 million option for 2023 with only 18 regular-season innings under his belt over the past three seasons.
Midway through 2018, any fan worth their salt also wanted Severino to be a “Yankee for life.”
While the right-hander hasn’t wavered in his devotion, the landscape has changed. And, as we’ve seen this week, the front office can be quite ruthless with pieces previously thought to be core parts of an upcoming title run.
Will Yankees pick up Luis Severino’s $15 million club option for 2023?
Likely … they will not. Even the rosiest of Severino projections for 2022 can’t imagine him throwing more than 156 innings — which, again, feels like an impossibly high total, considering he’s still under 20 for the past three seasons combined.
On the plus side, all limitations meant to prevent Tommy John surgery should now be off considering he’s already had the dreaded procedure. But in the column of negatives, it must be noted he came down with myriad bumps and bruises along the way in 2021 on his wretched road back, halting two separate rehabs in their tracks.
Inexplicably, the Yankees’ money-saving four-year, $40 million Severino deal that bought an extra year of monetized control — signed before the 2019 season — has worked out almost as poorly as their preemptive Aaron Hicks extension. For the Bombers to break their own rules twice, then be burned both times, is baffling and has likely led to unnecessary dilly dallying on Aaron Judge.
While it’s difficult to envision Severino fully healthy as a No. 2 in 2022, it’s equally easy to remember just how much you loved him back in 2018, when he felt like the eternal future.
"“I came here when I was 17 years old. I’m 28 right now. For me, it’s huge. I want to be healthy. I want to win. But I want to be healthy because I want to be a Yankee for life.”"
150 innings and some shining postseason moments, and that option will get picked up.
Or, at least, it should be, if the Yankees can forget their pandemic losses for even one emotion-soaked second.
Anything less, though, will likely signal a far-too-abrupt goodbye.