Luis Severino’s shoulder injury has the Yankees brass scrambling. Brian Cashman might dip back into free agency to protect his starting rotation.
One of the biggest determining factors for the Yankees’ ability to win their 28th World Series Championship is the performance of Luis Severino. Unfortunately, the team’s ace is now a major doubt to enter the 2019 season on the active roster.
Manager Aaron Boone didn’t hide his concern about his pitcher after he was scratched from Tuesday’s Spring Training start due to shoulder discomfort. He told the media that it is “highly unlikely” that Severino will be ready for Opening Day. The question for GM Brian Cashman and company becomes what will the organization due to respond to the injury.
If Severino’s final diagnosis indicates he’ll only miss a start or two then it’s very possible the Yankees will sit tight with their internal options. Boone specifically named Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga as guys who could move into the starting rotation for a short amount of time.
Loaisiga showed flashes of brilliance last season but there are real questions over his ability to stay healthy for a full season. The team originally planned to leave him in AAA to start the season in an effort to build up his innings. The good news is that Loaisiga has looked excellent in Spring Training to date. Despite his inexperience, he’s the early favorite to fill in for Severino if it’s only for a short period of time.
German isn’t out of the running though. There’s no question inside the organization that he has the stuff to get elite hitters out. For him it is all a question of command. His lack of ability to harness his stuff on a regular basis has led some to think he’s destined for a career in the bullpen. Like Loaisiga, the Yankees also would prefer to start him in AAA. He only has one minor league option left which would make starting him in the majors a real risk for the front office.
If, on the other hand, Severino’s injury turns out to be more serious, expect Cashman to think long and hard about adding another starter. Fortunately for the Yankees, there are still quality options available on the free agency market.
The top hurler still available is former Astros’ lefty Dallas Keuchel. It’s a big surprise to many people around MLB that he hasn’t found a home yet. He’s on the downside of his career, but he still should have several seasons of above average production ahead of him. If he’s willing to come off his desire for a long-term deal, Cashman could splurge and bring him to the Bronx.
The more likely target for the Yankees is another southpaw. According to Jon Heyman, the front office discussed the idea of adding Gio Gonzalez to the roster even before Severino’s injury. Unlike Keuchel, he probably knows he won’t be able to secure a long-term deal. If the Yankees are willing to pay him a meaningful salary on a one-year deal he could give the team another quality veteran to deploy in the starting rotation.
Ultimately, the Yankees’ future plans will depend greatly on Severino’s final diagnosis. No one should be surprised if Cashman makes one more move to strengthen his rotation before Opening Day.