Luis Severino is the ace starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. Luis Severino has one of the meanest fastballs in all of Major League Baseball. Luis Severino will miss Opening Day of the new season after an MRI revealed rotator cuff inflammation, with the Yankees shutting Severino down for two weeks.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said “we’ll be covered” with Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga tipped to be in the rotation. J.A. Happ looks likely to be the Opening Day starter with one of German or Loaisiga taking Happ’s spot in the rotation, but the Yankees problem of starting pitching just got a lot worse with this Severino news.
They may have brought Happ back and they may have traded for Seattle’s James Paxton along with Yankees stalwarts Masahiro Tanaka and the retiring C.C. Sabathia but in order for the Yanks to be contenders this season, they need one extra piece in that rotation. Is this an overreaction to the Severino news? No, but the Severino news hammered home the point that a lot of people were missing.
With just a few weeks left of free agency, the two biggest names on the market were snapped up when Manny Machado joined the San Diego Padres and Bryce Harper joined the Philadelphia Phillies. With the way that free agency has been covered this offseason, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there were no other players on the market worth splashing the cash for.
It’s all been about Machado and Harper and not about someone who had a 2.90 ERA in 2017 and won the World Series that season, it wasn’t about someone who still has a good numbers of years left of his prime before he inevitably drops off – Father Time is still undefeated in all of sports – and not about someone who would cost a pretty penny, but would also be an incredible asset to have both on the mound and in the clubhouse.
How on earth did anyone forget about Dallas Keuchel? It must be said that Gio Gonzalez’s name has also been mentioned around rumour mills but let’s just be blunt about this: Dallas Keuchel cleans house in comparison to Gio. Not that Gio is a bad pitcher, but Keuchel is so good that it would be stupid to turn him down, especially given that your ace has occasionally had issues with both injuries and clutch moments (remember the 2017 Wildcard Game and not knowing the start time for Game 3 of the ALDS against the Red Sox and giving up six runs in three innings) and another part of your rotation is in the final year of his career? From a purely baseball perspective, Keuchel to the Yankees makes the most sense. He’s projected to get a 3.71 ERA in 2019 (compared to Gio getting a 3.90) and would add that winning experience to the rotation that only Sabathia has. But what about from a financial perspective? Let’s look at it from the eyes of the Steinbrenner family…
They didn’t sign Machado because the money was too much, and the same with regards to Harper, which infuriated some of the Yankees fan base. “George wouldn’t have tried to save money” said one half of the angry fans while the other shouted “this wouldn’t have happened if The Boss was still around” and they’re right. This wouldn’t have happened, but the Yankees also wouldn’t have any money to do anything else for the rest of eternity if they did spend the money. $300M for ten-years on both Machado and Harper? You can see why the Steinbrenner family said no but imagine this… if you gave Dallas Keuchel a four-year-deal at $20M a year (works out at $80M over the course of the contract) and he ends up being one of the most important pitchers in your rotation in 2019 and makes the transition away from Sabathia seamless in the future, surely that’s worth something?
If he delivers a title in 2019 and maybe another in 2021, surely that’s worth something? Surely giving a former Cy Young winner a four-year-deal on low money (low money in this era) is worth something? It may not be the most pressing issue if Severino isn’t badly injured, but does that actually matter? What batter would want to face Severino, then Keuchel, then Paxton, then Tanaka and then Happ with maybe Sabathia and some younger arms thrown in before getting to the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton? You’d win most games before throwing a pitch purely out of fear.
Gio Gonzalez will likely be the pitcher the Yankees go for if indeed they decide to go for a pitcher but it would be the wrong move. If Severino is badly injured, they need to go after Keuchel. If Severino isn’t badly injured, they still need to go after Keuchel. Why? Because championship winning teams don’t just settle on what they have. They push themselves right to the edge and win with brute force and power. The Yankees have that brute force and power at the bat, but with Keuchel they’d have it on the mound too.