The New York Yankees signed Carlos Rodón this offseason in part to provide additional punch behind Gerrit Cole and to lengthen out a super rotation for 2023. They certainly also inked Rodón to a six-year deal because they were well aware that, after Year 1, they would likely be saying goodbye to both Frankie Montas and Luis Severino, and wanted one less hole to fill.
After Thursday's Severino news, the latest in a long line of examples of the Yankees holding him back for his own good, it's tough to find a path towards another long-term deal between the two parties after the season ends.
During the 2023 season? Sure. Severino will be his normal fire-breathing self, as he was when he returned last Sept. from the 60-Day IL.
But after several back-and-forths last season over his usage and readiness, in both the short- and long-term, Brian Cashman blocking Severino from competing in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republic feels like another significant blow to the relationship.
Sevy's not the only Dominican starter to be held back; Luis Castillo and the Mariners reached the reportedly mutual decision that he'd opt out, and Freddy Peralta of the Brewers has also been taken out of consideration. He's the only Dominican starter to be hit with this news following a reluctant 60-day break last summer and a no-hit bid stopped short by Aaron Boone and Co's caution, though. That would seem to hurt double.
Yankees, RHP Luis Severino at odds again over World Baseball Classic roster spot
The friction between the two sides became clear last summer when Severino, nursing a low-grade lat strain, threw a successful bullpen session by his standards before being told he was being placed on the 60-Day IL. The right-hander was quoted as saying the decision was "not OK," and he was feeling 100%.
In the Yankees' mind, they had enough of a lead in the AL East (nope) and enough of an injury history on their right-hander's arm (yes, correct) to play it exceptionally safe until the stretch run. Taking the foot off the gas turned out to be silly, but being careful with Severino never could be.
Which led directly into his seven-inning no-hit bid deep in the heart of Texas in a meaningless game last fall. No one knows which pitch it will be that finally snaps a fragile pitcher's mechanism. If it could be predicted down to the delivery, this game would be a much smoother ride. If a manager could count, "102 ... 103 ... 104 ... damn, that's it, 105 is the damage pitch, get him out," a bullheaded pitcher might still bristle, but they'd understand.
Unfortunately, we don't have that technology, and Boone (and Cashman's) proactive decision to pull Severino left the pitcher "1,000% certain" he would've polished off history if he'd been allowed to continue.
And, of course, it was also Severino on the mound in Game 3 of the ALDS, a game eventually blown with Clay Holmes on the bench. That led to a blatant call-out of Boone's strategy, which felt like the season's end at the time. "Has he lost the locker room?" we wondered. No. He lost one man.
What's saddest is that the team must now know they're preserving Severino for 2023, sure, but also for his next shot at a big contract ... with a new club. They're looking out for the player who also, to be fair, is looking out for the player. He wants to make moments. He doesn't want to be placed on a shelf and encased.
2023 will be one final, special chance for Severino to spin his breakers and blaze his fastball in the Bronx, and it won't start early with a potentially-strenuous World Baseball Classic stint. He'll make it a good one because he knows no other way. But if we were betting men, we'd assume this "Last Dance" will also include a mandated 60-day break midway through.
The team has made their opinion on Severino very clear, and he's reciprocated.