TODAY: The Yankees officially announced that Severino’s option has been exercised.
NOVEMBER 4: During a press conference this afternoon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the club will pick up their $15MM option on right-hander Luis Severino. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com was among those to relay the news on Twitter.
The news of the decision is not terribly shocking, as Severino is a bargain at that price as long as he’s healthy. After a couple of excellent seasons in 2017 and 2018 where Severino tossed over 190 innings in each and registered an ERA around 3.00 both times, he and the club agreed to a four-year, $40MM extension prior to 2019.
Unfortunately, the club hasn’t been able to recoup much on that investment so far. Various shoulder injuries limited Severino to just 12 innings in 2019, which was followed by Tommy John surgery in February of 2020. He eventually returned late in 2021, throwing just six innings, meaning he only threw 18 total frames over the first three years of the extensi0n.
In 2022, Severino was finally healthy for an extended stretch, though he did go on the 60-day IL from mid-July to mid-September due to a lat strain. Still, he was able to take the ball 19 times and throw 102 innings with a 3.18 ERA. He struck out 27.7% of batters faced while walking just 7.4% and getting grounders on 44.3% of balls in play. He also made two postseason starts and added another 11 innings there. While he hasn’t totally put the injury concerns behind him, that was still much more encouraging than anything the Yankees had seen from him since 2018.
The $15MM club option came with a $2.75MM buyout, making this a net $12.25MM decision. That number is only a few ticks above what a backend, innings-eating starter might get on the open market. For instance, Zack Greinke signed with the Royals for one year and $13MM and the Cubs claimed Wade Miley off waivers in order to pick up his $10MM club option. Severino has shown himself capable of being a front-end rotation member, making it an easy call to pick up that option.
Going forward, Severino should slot into a Yankee rotation that is already quite strong. Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Severino should form a solid front three. Frankie Montas dealt with shoulder issues this year but can be retained via arbitration for 2023 and should be slotted in as long as he’s recovered. That leaves a fifth spot open, with Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt both on hand as solid options for that. While most teams usually go into the offseason with major question marks in their rotations, the Yankees seem poised to be able to focus their attentions elsewhere, with the most obvious question being whether or not they can convince Aaron Judge to stay in the Bronx.
For Severino, he has one more season to try to put the injury concerns behind him before he heads to free agency for the first time in his career. Despite the setbacks, he is still in a good place for a nice payday since he will turn 29 in February and be a free agent going into his age-30 season. He’ll be looking to have a strong campaign in 2023, both to help the team win and to go into the open market on a high.