In the busy early hours of free agency, news broke today that Luis Severino will sign with the Mets for one year and $13 million plus incentives, ending his long tenure in the Bronx. After a miserable season, the writing was on the wall that he and the Yankees would part ways. Steve Cohen and company offered him what boils down to a classic one-year prove-it deal for a veteran trying to recapture success that’s quickly receding into the rearview mirror.
Perhaps the best Yankees homegrown pitcher of the last decade, Sevy had the kind of intense mound presence that made his teammates eager to follow him into battle. He was also gracious with the media, never hiding from questions about his performance and demonstrating standout, consistent candor even during the roughest moments toward the end.
Severino had been with the organization for over a decade since signing as an international free agent out of Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic. After three full seasons in the minors, he’d honed his impressive-but-raw stuff into a fine-tuned repertoire, and the major league club came calling. They very well could’ve dealt him at the trade deadline in 2015, but held onto the young phenom and gave him a crack at the rotation in August.
Severino came up as a precursor to the Baby Bombers, and expectations were high for a team in the midst of competing for a playoff spot. His first victory came on August 22, 2015, in a solid start against Cleveland. Sevy flashed the fastball fuel and the competitive fire that would become his trademark.
Severino impressed in the second half of 2015. In his first major league action, he compiled a 2.89 ERA in 62.1 innings for a team without too many bright spots down the stretch. 2016 represented a bit of a sophomore slump, however — he was limited to 71 innings due to the first of a rash of injuries. He never really found his rhythm as a starter, but pitched well out of the bullpen until his triceps injury.
For one shining moment, however brief it may have been, Sevy was a rapidly ascending future ace. 2017 was his and the Yankees’ magical year, culminating in the plucky, revitalized Bombers coming oh-so-close to a World Series berth. At the beginning of that season, there was growing sentiment to send him to the ‘pen full time, but Severino silenced that immediately, putting up a strong first half with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. That got him elected to the 2017 American League All-Star team. When the dust settled on the regular season, he’d logged 193.1 innings and posted 5.6 fWAR. Suddenly, the Yankees had a budding ace on their hands.
Severino continued his upward trajectory by posting another elite 5.4 fWAR season and another All-Star selection in 2018. His first career complete game came on May 2nd in a revenge game against the Astros and posted four scoreless innings in the AL Wild Card Game.
After two stellar seasons, Severino’s first big payday came in the form of a four-year, $40 million dollar extension. Unfortunately, 2019 and 2020 didn’t go as well. Shoulder woes limited him to just 12 regular season innings in ‘19, and the following February, he tore his UCL.
Tommy John surgery knocked Severino out for the season and then some. The gut punches kept coming, as during his second rehab start in June 2021, Severino suffered a severe groin injury that sidelined him for months ... and then another setback ramping up from the injury. Severino’s reaction to the groin injury was heartbreaking.
A small form of redemption came in September. After 707 days since his last MLB start, he spun two scoreless innings in a win over Texas, and would go on to complete six scoreless over the final week of the season.
Severino entered 2022 as a starter once more, and though a lat injury sidelined him for a couple months in midsummer, he still posted a 3.18 ERA in 102 innings (19 starts) with a WHIP of exactly 1.000. Most memorably, he dazzled with seven no-hit frames in Texas as the Yankees tuned up for what they hoped would be a deep run with Sevy in the playoff rotation. Alas, the results were mixed and the Astros dusted the Yankees away in the ALCS.
There’s no getting around the sad fact that Sevy’s 2023 swan song was ugly, but that’s not how we should remember the man who gave nearly a dozen years of his life to the Yankees and fought through pain every step of the way. His persistence in getting back on the mound wasn’t just a boon to the team on the field, it was a life lesson. All told, Severino logged 141 appearances, making 125 starts and providing 13.1 fWAR (14.6 before this season).
It was truly a pleasure to watch Sevy battle every five days. Even amid untold struggles, he kept his composure and poise as only a true Yankee can. We’ll miss you, Sevy, and we’re glad you’re staying close to home. Don’t be a stranger, and good luck in Queens.