Should The Yankees Extend Luis Severino?

With news coming out that the Yankees have engaged in talks of a potential extension with Luis Severino, would it be a good move?

The news came out yesterday that the New York Yankees and their ace Luis Severino have engaged in extension talks. And while nothing in baseball is indeed certain, an extension between Sevvy and the Yankees would certainly be beneficial to both sides. So in this piece, we will look at what a potential extension could be for Luis Severino.

Who is the Real Luis Severino?

Over the past few of seasons, we have seen a couple of versions of Luis Severino. During the 2017 season, Sevvy put up incredible numbers. And that was evident by his third-place finish in the AL Cy Young voting. In 193.1 innings of work, Sevvy struck out 230 batters and had a 10.7 K/9 and an ERA of 2.98, ultimately culminating in an ERA+ of 152. However, when looking at the 2018 season for Severino, it was a tale of two Sevvy’s.

During the first half of 2018, Severino pitched to an ERA of 2.31, struck out 144 in 128.1 innings and had an OPS against of .579. In the second half, however, in only 63 innings of work, Luis would pitch to an ERA of 5.57, and had an OPS against of .821.

Severino would still manage to strike out 76 in those 63 second half innings, but Luis was a noticeably different pitcher. There were murmurs of pitch-tipping issues in the second half. If that was the case, that could easily account for the drastic change in production. So what Luis Severino could we expect to see if an extension was signed?

Following the Phillies Model

Along with the news of “talks” between the Yankees and Luis Severino, news broke of an extension between the Philadelphia Phillies and their ace Aaron Nola. Aaron Nola’s 2018 season was similar to Severino’s 2017 campaign. The Phillies would jump on Nola’s third-place NL Cy Young voting finish with a four year $45 million extension. The 25-year-old Aaron Nola will male $4 million in the upcoming season with a $2 million signing bonus. And that will be followed up with salaries of $8 million, $11.75 million, and $15 million in 2020, 21, and 22 respectively.

Luis Severino will be pitching his age 25 season in 2019, following the Nola deal is a viable extension model option. At the moment the Yankees and Luis have not agreed to terms for his 2019 salary. Luis Severino filed for an arbitration figure of $5.25 million while the Yankees countered with $4.4 million and if the Yankees split the difference for the 2019 season at $4.75-5 million and similarly increase the deal.

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With Sevy being a year younger than Nola an extra year could be added to an extension. A six-year contract extension in which Severino makes $75 million could be a worthwhile extension for both parties. Under this agreement, Luis would earn $4.75 million, $10m, $12m, $15m, $18.25m, $15m, in years 2019-2024 respectively. This deal would buy out all of Sevvy’s arbitration years and his first year of free agency. And it would maximize the Yankees return for someone that has ace and Cy Young-caliber potential.

Extension: Buyers Remorse or Sound Investment

When it comes to investing in pitching it is a risky endeavor. As the motion of pitching is somewhat unnatural for the body. And when factoring in the velocity that Luis Severino delivers for 100 pitches a game, for 30 plus games a season there adds even more risk. So when thinking and projecting Severino’s potential future, there are comps to consider.

At best, Severino could pitch with that 100 m.p.h. fastball for his entire career, akin to Nolan Ryan. Luis could also bottom out like Mark Prior. Or Severino could find solace in someone who threw hard but found a way to reinvent himself when he lost the sizzle on his heater, CC Sabathia.

Now while it is unlikely the Yankees or Luis Severino would have to deal with this level of risk during this deal is low, it must be considered prior to offering an extension such as the one suggested here. However, if Severino can regain that Cy Young caliber form, this deal would be a serious bargain for the Yankees.

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