Do the New York Yankees have a Luis Severino problem?

New York Yankees, Luis Severino
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When the New York Yankees extended starting pitcher Luis Severino on a four-year, $40 million deal, they didn’t imagine he would play in just three total games over two seasons. He began to feel discomfort in his elbow during the post-season in 2019, which ultimately resulted in him undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Yankees expected Severino and new ace Gerrit Cole to feature as one of the leagues best one-two punches, but that reality will have to wait.

The last time Severino showed elite quality was in 2018 when he posted a 3.39 ERA and was voted an All-Star. He ranked ninth in Cy Young award voting, posting 220 total strikeouts and allowing 19 homers over 191.1 innings. However, his 2017 season was even better, after posting a 2.98 ERA, with 230 strikeouts and allowing 21 homers.

Seemingly, it seems as if the Yankees’ faith in long-term extensions has backfired significantly. This can be attributed to the previous strength and conditioning regimen, who the Yankees recently shook up in favor of Eric Cressey, who is known for his ability to rehabilitate players and sustain their health.

Severino, though, has now undergone two consecutive seasons of serious injuries, and it could cause a problem for the Yankees, who owe him $10.75 million in 2021. Luckily, the team has a club option 2023, that would include a $2.7 million buyout. If he bounces back strong and shows his previous form, the Yankees might not defer his $15 million salary in year five of his club option-season.

The New York Yankees have a very strong starting rotation, when healthy:

The Yankees have one of the best starting rotations in baseball when everyone is healthy, consisting of Cole, Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A Happ, James Paxton, Jordan Montgomery, and a bevy of younger starters. With the 2020 season in jeopardy, they could be looking to the free-agent market to replace some expiring talents. Tanaka, Happ, and Paxton will be free agents after the 2021 season.

Even a shortened season would give the Yankees some sort of security and idea going into the off-season regarding potential extensions with these three players. Tanaka has been a stud in the postseason but has gradually fallen off due to age.

I believe they will let Tanaka and Happ walk, with Paxton potentially earning a few more years on his deal if he returns to some degree this season. Ultimately, they need to see some sort of progress from Paxton after undergoing lower back surgery to remove a cyst.

Nonetheless, Severino is an enticing piece that could be utilized in a trade down the road. His team-friendly deal could come in handy if he shows some sort of progress in 2021. Obviously, if he performs well, the Yankees will keep him, given the fact that Happ is earning $17 million, and Luis is hovering just about $10 million. But, everything is still up in the air, and with team owners and the players union negotiating financials, there is a possibility the 2020 season could be canceled altogether.

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