The New York Yankees received devastating news earlier today regarding starting pitcher, Luis Severino. New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stated that Tommy John surgery was recommended for Severino. The news was confirmed on Twitter by a couple of different sources but was first reported by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
Brian Cashman says Luis Severino needs Tommy John surgery.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 25, 2020
Obviously, the biggest takeaway from today’s news is that it is a major blow for the New York Yankees. Looking ahead to this season, the Yankees were expecting quite a bit from Luis Severino in their starting rotation. After all, Severino was slated to be the team’s number three starter.
Last season, Severino only made three starts for the Yankees in which he posted a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings of work. Over that period, Severino held opposing team’s batters to a .146 batting average. Despite that though, Severino had a really good 2018 regular season. That year, Severino posted a 3.39 ERA over 191.1 innings of work with 220 strikeouts.
Therefore, the Yankees were hoping that a return to good health was in store for Luis Severino. However, with today’s news, that is simply not the case. The Yankees must now start to establish a plan on how to move forward and ensure that this doesn’t create a significant weakness on their 26-man roster.
Where the Yankees Should Turn Now
The New York Yankees need to now look towards the future and keep the optimism heading into the coming season. The last thing the Yankees need is for this injury to be a distraction and to cause there to be upheaval in their clubhouse. However, that all starts with establishing a proper plan moving forward.
As part of that plan, the Yankees will now need to identify how they want to move forward. Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office can simply rely on internal options, turn to free agency for an upgrade, or look to make a trade before Opening Day. All three of those options could fill the void left behind by the loss of Luis Severino in some respect.
Granted, there are likely not many options available out there in free agency or on the trade market that match the talent level of Severino when healthy. Although, the key is to find a starting pitcher capable of building up depth. With the news that starting pitcher James Paxton might not return to a big league mound until June, the Yankees need all of the starting pitching depth they can get.
Internally, the New York Yankees have some depth options available. The good news is that the Yankees didn’t lose any of that depth this past offseason. Instead, Brian Cashman and the entire Yankees front office made the smart decision to hold onto it.
One potential option is right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga. Loaisiga has started in a total of eight games for the Yankees over his short big league career. In that span, Loaisiga posted a 4.79 ERA with an 11.18 K/9 rate and an average of 19.4 pitches-per-inning. Loaisiga presents the Yankees with a nice depth option, but the organization might not feel as though he is their best option.
Therefore, someone such as left-hander Jordan Montgomery might give the organization a more effective replacement. Montgomery was an effective starting pitcher for the Yankees in 2017 and 2018. Last year, Montgomery only pitched four innings at the big league level as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. As a result, Montgomery could be effective, but the Yankees might worry about the type of production he can provide the team this coming season.
Yet another internal option could be the use of Chad Green in the fifth spot of the starting rotation. Green has the ability to be a hybrid type of pitcher and that could be an attractive route for the Yankees to go down. Over his big league career, Green has started in 24 games in which he posted a 3.16 ERA and a 12.0 K/9 rate.
Trade Market Options
One potential trade target could be Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd. The Yankees have been in contact with the Tigers about Boyd over the course of the last year. However, the asking price the last time the two sides were in contact was extremely high. Given that, a deal never came to fruition but Boyd is the type of replacement the Yankees could use.
Last season, prior to the All-Star Break Matthew Boyd posted a 3.87 ERA over 107 innings of work. In that span, Boyd recorded 142 strikeouts and held opponents to a .242 batting average. However, things really went the opposite direction post All-Star Break when Boyd posted a 5.51 ERA over 78.1 innings pitched. During that span, Boyd gave up 48 earned runs and a 1.38 WHIP.
Besides Matthew Boyd, another potential trade target is Miami Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith. Smith was another name that was heavily mentioned on the trade market prior to the July 31st Trade Deadline last year and to some degree, this past offseason. Smith, who completed his third big league season last year, ended the season with a 4.52 ERA. Despite the high ERA, it was the first full season for Smith as a starting pitcher.
Lastly, another potential option is Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander, Ross Stripling. Stripling was reportedly a part of a deal with the Los Angeles Angels a few weeks ago, but is still a member of the Dodgers today. Given that, his availability might still be open and the Yankees could see if they could make a deal with the Dodgers. Stripling would be an intriguing option because he could be a hybrid pitcher for the Yankees. New York could utilize him at the back end of the starting rotation as well as in the bullpen.
Free Agent Options
Of the three options listed above, this one seems the least likely. Given that Spring Training is underway, there are not a lot of effective options left on the open market. Therefore, the Yankees might prefer to rely on internal options or try to acquire someone via trade instead.
A potential target on the free agent market could be right-hander Ervin Santana. Santana is 37 years old though and had a very rough year last season with the Chicago White Sox. However, Santana could provide the Yankees with some valuable starting rotation depth for down the stretch. Santana isn’t necessarily an attractive option, but is capable of being an innings eater when healthy.
Outside of Ervin Santana, another potential target on the free agent market is left-hander Jason Vargas. As is the case with Ervin Santana, Vargas is also 37 years old and had a mediocre year last season with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Despite that though, the experience pitching in a large market could be attractive for the Yankees.
In the end, there is likely not going to be a valuable enough option internally or outside of the Yankees organization that can replace the production left behind by Luis Severino. Severino was expected to do big things this season for the Yankees. Although, every team experiences injuries over the course of a season and has to plan for things like this. The biggest thing the Yankees need to do is establish a solid plan moving forward and not let it mess with the optimism for the coming season.