It's official: the Yankees 2024 rotation will not be the same as 2023, as the New York Mets have signed Luis Severino to a 1/$13M contract.
Severino's Career (In Short):
Luis Severino signed with the Yankees as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 and he quickly made a name for himself. He didn't have a huge profile as an international free agent but quickly established his name once he was playing professional ball, first in the DOSL in 2013 and then again state-side in Rookie and Class-A ball in 2013. In two short years he went from an unknown prospect to one of the best in the Yankees system and a player in the 2014 Futures Game. In 2015 he was a near consensus Top-50 prospect (Baseball Prospectus ranked him 51st, Baseball America 35th, and MLB.com 23rd) and he would make his MLB debut later that season.
Once in the MLB, Severino showed some dominant stuff while finishing out the season over 11 starts en route to a 2.89 ERA over 62.1 innings with 56 strikeouts as a 21-year-old rookie. This earned him a spot in the 2016 rotation but poor performance and an injury had him spend some time back in Triple-A and used as a reliever to finish out the year.
Luis Severino's best seasons- by far- came in 2017 and 2018- as he pitched to a 14-6 record with a 2.98 ERA over 193.1 innings with 230 strikeouts and a 19-8 record, 3.39 ERA over 191.1 innings and 220 strikeouts in those back-to-back seasons. He was selected to 2 straight All-Star games and in those years finished in the Top-3 and Top-9 in AL Cy Young voting, respectfully. These seasons earned Severino a 4-year/$40 Million contract.
Unfortunately, after Severino cemented himself as a top tier starter a as a 23 and 24 year-old, the injury bug started to hit and wouldn't let off. In 2019, Severino pitched just 12 innings- all at the end of September- after missing almost the entire season with problems to his right shoulder and suffering a lat strain.
Severino would miss the entire 2020 season after getting Tommy John surgery in February, 2020. His rehab would hit a number of snags along the way during that season and 2021, as it would take until September 2021 for Severino to be activated again, pitching just 6 innings.
In 2022, Severino pitched 102.0 innings with a 3.18 ERA over 19 starts, though this season also featured Severino missing a lot of time with another lat strain.
In 2023, Severino managed to pitch just 89.1 innings around injuries and inconsistencies. He had a 6.65 ERA during this time before he suffered a high-grade oblique strain and was shut down for good in September.
With this move, the longest tenured New York Yankee (not counting Kyle Higashioka, who made his MLB debut in 2017) now becomes a New York Met. That just sounds weird to say. Though, it also now makes Aaron Judge the longest tenured Yankee at the MLB level. And that just feels right to me. However, back to the main person of this piece.
Luis Severino is the embodiment of what makes professional sports so frustrating to follow. He was a fantastic pitcher for the Yankees and was a perfect example of a homegrown talent that would compete for year-end awards. He showcased an amazing fire and drive for the game and for a short period of time was an absolute must-watch across a Yankees rotation that was not overly exciting. Luis Severino was a symbol of great things to come...until he wasn't able to stick around anymore.
Luis Severino, by all counts, gave it his all to return back to the Yankees as best he could even if his body wasn't willing to work with him to do so. And as a fan, it stinks when you have to move on from a player who showed you- and your franchise- a lot of hope.
Speaking of, the glimmer of hope from 2022 was a nice sight to see and having that very good season in the recent review mirror should give many Mets fans hope that Severino could find his way to being a good-to-great pitcher again. And with the limited amount of starting pitching arms on the free agent market this winter, a 1-year gamble on Luis Severino is definitely not going to be the worst contract that will be handed out.
Personally, I didn't think the Yankees were going to bring Severino back. It was clear his time in the pinstripes was unfortunately better to be over than given one last shot. However, I did not expect him to continue to stay in the city, around a large media circus, and who will be given (for better or worse) a lot of expectations to fill on a Mets team that desperately needs starting pitching help.
As with all former Yankees, I wish Luis Severino the best next season in all games not against the New York Yankees. I hope he is able to showcase the stuff that had him pegged as a potential yearly Cy Young candidate and I hope that he pitches well enough to earn himself another fruitful contract next offseason.
Best of luck, Luis!
(So, now that the Yankees lost a starting pitcher to free agency, can they please sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto? That'd be really nice!)