Spring is here, which means the first glimpses of the 2019 Yankees are coming into focus. After an up-and-down 2018 campaign, Luis Severino reported to camp and was looking sharp off the initial fastball pops into Gary Sanchez’ glove.
And a bit of Severino’s first bullpen session of the spring. He’s throwing to Sanchez pic.twitter.com/ZFqGQ9i88W— Erik Boland (@eboland11) February 14, 2019
Though he looked like a Cy Young candidate in the first half of last season, Severino struggled mightily on the back nine. Theories swirled, suggesting that his inconsistencies came from him tipping pitches, but he found that a different villain was to blame: fried plantains.
Luis Severino made changes to his diet and training program in attempt to have more stamina 2nd half of the season. Lost 12-15 pounds. More focused on cardio and stretching instead of weights. Diet includes more vegetables (he misses fried plantains for those who care) #yankees— Meredith Marakovits (@M_Marakovits) February 13, 2019
With a new training regiment, he’s heading into the 2019 season looking to return to his true ace form. It wasn’t all sunshine and vegetables though, because although he’s feeling lighter, arbitration was still casting a shadow of looming darkness over the beginning of his season. That cleared up Friday morning as reports came in that the top-of-the-rotation pitcher had agreed to an extension with the Yankees worth $40 million over four years, with a $12 million option for a fifth season.
STICKING AROUND: The #Yankees and starter Luis Severino have agreed to a four-year, $40 million extension (Via @Joelsherman1). Severino went 19-8 last season with a 3.39 ERA. #MLB— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) February 15, 2019
MORE: https://t.co/fTvnBwhPNk pic.twitter.com/L1vuEnGQgh
It appeared that Severino would be STICKING AROUND, but before the extension was confirmed, Manager Aaron Boone chimed in to offer an impassioned take on his young star.
Luis Severino’s deal isn’t done, so Aaron Boone can’t offer specifics, but he smiled and said: “He’s a great pitcher and I hope he’s here for a long time.”— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 15, 2019
After passing a physical, the deal became official, meaning Luis Severino will be a Yankee through his 20s, reaching free agency at age 30.
Today, the New York Yankees announced they have signed RHP Luis Severino to a 4-year contract extending through the 2022 season, with a club option for the 2023 season.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 15, 2019
Pinstripe Alley’s Josh Diemert offered his thoughts on how the deal proves mutually beneficial for the Yankees and Severino. The team, for example, gains financial flexibility while still locking down a young talent during the years leading to his prime. Severino, on the other hand, avoids the tough process of arbitration while making a pretty penny. It also leaves him room to sign a free agent deal at a young enough age that will yield nice results.
An interesting wrinkle of this deal is how the impending work stoppage, the one looming when the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires in 2021, affected the financial breakdown per year. Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal were quick to point out that this deal is front-loaded to protect Severino and his earnings against a possible strike on the back half.
Breakdown of Luis Severino's deal, per source:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 15, 2019
2019: $4M+$2M bonus
2023 (club option): $15M with $2.75M buyout
Interesting part of that: higher salaries in '20 and '21, lower than usual in '22. Why? Protection against a work stoppage.
Interesting detail: Severino and his agents wanted money pushed toward front of deal to protect against possible strike when CBA expires on Dec. 1, 2021. https://t.co/iRa8udjxbA— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 15, 2019
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete MLB offseason day without discussion of the ever-popular luxury tax. Interestingly enough, the Yankees’ ability to stay under the threshold could seed longterm success with their crop of young talent. The Yankee brass was more willing than normal to spend during arbitration, which could signal to players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez that the team is willing to negotiate and invest in a long-term future with their players.
#Yankees hesitated in recent yrs on long-term deals with arb guys because avg value is used for lux tax payroll. But going under last season made more tolerable to do now. Severino now costs $10M annually for tax purposes, so projected ’19 payroll grows from about $215M to $220M— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 15, 2019
Cashman said #Yankees raised offer, Severino side lowered ask and deal was reached that “If he’s Sevy will be good for us and if he is not Sevy will protect him. If he is what he’s been this is a good bet for us.”— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 16, 2019
Now that Luis Severino has signed an extension, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees try to do the same with Aaron Judge and/or Gary Sanchez before they go to arbitration next year.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 15, 2019
Aside from all the financial talk, some just wanted to look at the historical positives. For instance, the Yankees are pretty damn good when Severino takes the mound.
Here's a Luis Severino fun fact -- the Yankees are 44-19 in his 63 starts since the start of 2017, the most team wins started by any @MLB pitcher over that span.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 15, 2019
And, as recent history shows, any time they have spent on extensions before free agency, the results have been phenomenal.
In last quarter century #Yankees have done significant extension prior to 1st crack at free agency 7 times and are 7-for-7: Tino, Jeter, Mo, Pettitte, Posada, Cano, Gardner. Severino is test case 8.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 15, 2019
How did Severino react? Pretty well, I’d say.
"She called me and said, 'What happened? Did you win?' and I said, 'No I didn't win, but I got 40 Million.'" pic.twitter.com/Rh4joD6FLa— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 16, 2019
All-in-all, this deal is a success. It allows Severino to enter the 2019 season focused on his craft without the cloud of arbitration hanging over his head. It also pays him his dues and keeps him in pinstripes without hindering his longterm financial future. On the flip side, the Yankees keep their ace where he belongs without breaking the bank, while showing some good faith business practices that could play nicely when some of their other young stars’ times come. Not a bad way to enter the weekend. Get that man a victory fried plantain.