11:05am: Boone said this morning at Yankees camp that Severino will travel to New York and undergo another series of tests on Monday (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler).
February 21, 9:10am: A pair of MRIs and a CT scan have all come back negative, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters yesterday (video link via MLB.com). For now, Severino has been placed on a new anti-inflammatory and will be reevaluated in a few days’ time.
February 20: In yet another bit of troubling injury news for Yankees fans, manager Aaron Boone revealed Thursday that right-hander Luis Severino is experiencing forearm soreness that dates all the way back to his final ALCS appearance in 2019 (Twitter links via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch). Severino also has a loose body in his elbow, per Boone. He’ll be shut down for at least the next few days and will be examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad tomorrow. Asked if Severino would be ready for Opening Day, Boone could only reply, “We’ll see.”
While tomorrow’s doctor visit will shed more light on the specifics of Severino’s issue, obviously this isn’t at all how the righty hoped to begin his Spring Training, especially not in the wake of what was essentially a lost 2019 season. Severino pitched only 20 1/3 total innings (12 in the regular season, 8 1/3 in the postseason) last year after a shoulder injury and then a lat strain kept him from making his season debut until September 17.
Any mention of a forearm injury also raises the specter of Tommy John surgery, the worst-case scenario that would sideline Severino until Opening Day 2021 at the earliest. Back in 2016 (and on the updated list in 2017), MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum created a model for predicting what pitchers are the largest risks for TJ surgeries, with Severino ranking as having a better-than-average chance at a future procedure in both rankings.
It was a little over one year ago that Severino signed a four-year, $40MM extension that has yet to yield any return for the Yankees. The deal covered Severino’s four arbitration-eligible years (and, via a club option for 2023, the first of his free-agent seasons) so the Yankees gained some cost certainty with the extension, though it did boost the right-hander’s luxury tax number over the course of the next four seasons. While a $10MM average annual value is small potatoes for a big-market team like New York, every extra dollar is impactful for Competitive Balance Tax purposes, considering the Yankees were over the luxury tax threshold in 2019 and are currently projected to soar well over the highest luxury tax penalty threshold of $248MM in 2020.
With James Paxton already out of action until at least May, the Yankees’ rotation would take a further hit if Severino is required to miss any time. Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ are the projected top three in the rotation, with a group that consists of Jordan Montgomery, Luis Cessa, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, and Jonathan Loaisiga now potentially battling for two rotation spots, rather than just the fifth starter’s role in Paxton’s absence.