There are many pros and only a few cons to signing Sanchez to a long-term contract

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

February and March make up extension season in baseball. Most pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players hammer out their contracts for the upcoming season this time of year, and inevitably some strike long-term deals with their teams. In recent weeks Tim Anderson, Rougned Odor, Jose Ramirez (the hitter, not the pitcher), Kevin Kiermaier, and Carlos Martinez all signed extensions. The team gets cost certainty and the player gets rich. Everyone wins.

The Yankees have a lot of up-and-coming young talent, so it stands to reason they’ll start thinking about long-term extensions soon. Much of that talent is in the minors though. Aaron Judge has fewer than 100 big league plate appearances and Greg Bird just missed an entire season with shoulder surgery. Luis Severino was pretty bad as a starter last season. You can understand why the Yankees may wait to approach those guys about extensions.

Then there’s Gary Sanchez, who was so incredibly awesome late last year he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting despite playing only one-third of the season. The timing of Sanchez’s call-ups these last two years mean he has only 86 days of service time. That’s it. Not only do the Yankees still have Sanchez for six more seasons, but he won’t he even qualify as a Super Two. He’ll make something close to the league minimum from 2017-19 before going through arbitration from 2020-22.

Unlike Judge, Sanchez has shown he can thrive against big league pitching. And unlike Bird, Sanchez plays a premium position. There are many reasons the Yankees should look to extend their young cornerstone backstop and his position is one of them. Quality catchers are hard to find. When you get one who can hit and throw like Sanchez, you lock him up. The history of the Yankees is littered with ultra-productive catchers (Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, Jorge Posada) and Sanchez looks to be next in line. That’s exciting.

Working out a long-term extension isn’t easy, of course. For starters, Sanchez has to be willing to sign away his maximum earning potential for the guaranteed payday. He received a $3M signing bonus as an amateur and may not be desperate for a huge contract right now. Also, Sanchez seems pretty committed to his #brand, so his goal may to be make as much money as possible. I couldn’t blame him one bit. There’s a few other factors to consider too.

1. There is very little precedent for an extension this early. Like I said, Sanchez has only 86 days of service time, and in the world of baseball 172 days equals a full year. Very few long-term deals are struck this early in a player’s career, though it should be noted the White Sox just extended Anderson with 115 days of service time. Here’s the list of players who signed long-term before reaching one year of service time over the last decade:

  • Tim Anderson, White Sox: Six years, $25M with two options in March 2017.
  • Jon Singleton, Astros: Five years, $10M with three options in June 2014.
  • Chris Archer, Rays: Six years, $20M with two options in April 2014.
  • Salvador Perez, Royals: Five years, $7M with three options in February 2012.
  • Matt Moore, Rays: Five years, $14M with three options in December 2011.
  • Evan Longoria, Rays: Six years, $17.5M with three options in April 2008.

That’s it. Six players over the last ten years, three of whom played for the Rays, a team that aggressively locks up its young talent because that’s the only way they can remain competitive. I’m certain the Yankees would give Sanchez the Perez extension right now, but yeah, no way that’s happening. Perez was a small amateur bonus guy ($65,000) who very much wanted the guaranteed millions, so he jumped at the contract. (Perez and the Royals tore that contract up and renegotiated a new $52.5M deal last year.)

The Anderson contract does set something of a benchmark for the Yankees and Sanchez, though I’m sure Sanchez’s agent would say “my guy is a lot better than that guy” and demand more. I know I would. The thing to keep in mind is the Yankees have Sanchez for the next six years at below-market salaries no matter what. They also have the ability to non-tender him and walk away should he stop hitting or suffer a catastrophic injury. So unless a long-term deal buys out some free agent years — meaning cover at least seven years — at a reasonable price, there’s little reason for the Yankees to agree to a contract extension.

2. Sanchez’s leverage may never be greater than it is right now. Sanchez could spend 15 years in the big leagues and make a bunch of All-Star teams, and it’s still very possible he will never have another two-month stretch like the one he had last season. Signing Sanchez right now could mean locking him up when his value is at its absolute peak, when everyone thinks he might be a Miguel Cabrera caliber hitter and an Ivan Rodriguez caliber defender.

For the Yankees, the smart move could be waiting until next offseason, when they have a chance to see how Sanchez performs over the course of a full season. Chances are he won’t match last year’s pace. At that point everyone will have a chance to get their head out of the clouds and evaluate this situation a little more rationally and with some more information. And you know what? If Sanchez is willing to sign a team friendly contract tomorrow, the Yankees could still pounce. For now it sure feels like Gary is holding all the cards.

3. An extension would make it more difficult to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2018. The Yankees have made it very clear they want to get under the luxury tax threshold soon, and next season is the perfect time. Several huge contracts will be off the books (Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, maybe Masahiro Tanaka too) and the club has some cheap young talent to fill out the roster. Next season will be, by far, their best chance to get under the threshold.

As it stands Sanchez is slated to make six figures during the 2018 season. Somewhere around $600,000, probably a little less. For luxury tax purposes, he’ll be a bargain. Should Sanchez sign an extension though, his luxury tax hit would be equal to the average annual value of the contract. Let’s say he signed Anderson’s deal, six years and $25M guaranteed. That’s a $4.167M average annual value. So, rather than counting at ~$600,000 against the luxury tax next year, Sanchez would count as $4.167M even though his actual salary figures to be less than that.

Now, the extra $3.6M or so may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re trying to get under a hard payroll number, every dollar counts. That’s $3.6M the Yankees wouldn’t be able to use on an extra reliever, or a cheap depth starter. It’s real money that would be no longer available to the Yankees. In the long-term, signing Sanchez to an extension figures to save the Yankees millions. In the short-term, it will hurt their chances to get under the luxury tax.

4. Contract extensions tend to get more expensive the longer you wait. This sorta runs counter to point No. 2. Sanchez’s leverage may be sky high right now given his performance, but history shows the longer you want to extend a player, the more it’ll cost. Go look at that list of players who signed extensions with less than one year of service time again. See how cheap those deals are? Now here are the last five players to sign extensions with 1-2 years of service time:

  • Odubel Herrera, Phillies: Five years, $30.5M with two options in December 2016.
  • Gregory Polanco, Pirates: Five years, $35M with two options in April 2016.
  • Yordano Ventura, Royals: Five years, $23M with two options in April 2015.
  • Juan Lagares, Mets: Four years, $23M with one option in April 2015.
  • Christian Yelich, Marlins: Seven years, $49.75M with one option in March 2015.

Removing that ridiculous Perez contract, the extensions for players with less than one full year of service time averaged 5.6 years and $17.3M with 2.6 options. The average contract for those five players with 1-2 years of service time is 5.2 years and $32.25M with 1.6 options. More money across fewer years with fewer options. The sooner you lock them up, the cheaper they are.

With Sanchez, the Yankees would have to weigh potential long-term savings against making it a little more difficult to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2018.

* * *

Based on Anderson’s recent extension with the White Sox, I’m thinking it would take something like six years and $30M just to get Sanchez and his agent to listen. Anderson, a former top 100 prospect himself, had a nice year in 2016, hitting .283/.306/.432 (95 wRC+) with +2.4 fWAR and +2.8 bWAR in 99 games. Sanchez was a one-man wrecking crew though, and that performance combined with his Rookie of the Year finish — Anderson received only two third place votes and finished seventh in the voting — means he could demand more money despite fewer games played.

I see both sides of this argument, signing Sanchez now and waiting. Sign him now and it means you’ve got a cornerstone player locked up long-term and are very likely to save millions down the road, even if it means having a few million bucks less to spend in 2018. At the same time, Sanchez’s leverage is through the roof right now, and waiting a year for things to calm down could lead to a more reasonable contract in the grand scheme of things.

The Yankees aren’t the most aggressive team when it comes to locking up their young talent — to be fair, they haven’t had many young players worth signing long-term in recent years — but it’s something they will definitely have to consider soon. Young big leaguers like Sanchez and Bird, as well as high-end prospects like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, are players the Yankees want to build around going forward. Signing them to long-term extensions creates cost certainty going forward, and it also figures to give the team more flexibility to sign free agents down the road.

The Rest of the AL East [2017 Season Preview]

There has been an interesting bit of parity in the AL East this decade, as every team has won the division crown in the last seven years. The Red Sox appear to be the standard-bearer, with both ZiPS and PECOTA projecting them to repeat as division champs – but both also have at least four of the five teams sitting at .500 or better, and at least one team winning a Wild Card slot. While the smart money may be on the Red Sox, this division should be among the most competitive (and exciting) in the game once again.

(Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports)
(Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Orioles

2016 Record: 89-73

Notable Additions: Welington Castillo, Seth Smith

Notable Subtractions: Yovani Gallardo, Steve Pearce, Matt Wieters

Buck Showalter’s team is something of a perennial overachiever at this point, beating projection systems and milking middling talents for all their worth. They’ve made the playoffs in three of the last five years, and consistency within the organization may have something to do with that.

The 2016 Orioles were the epitome of a station-to-station team last year, finishing first in home runs by a comfortable margin (their 253 home runs were 28 ahead of the second-place Cardinals) and dead last with just 19 steals (16 fewer than the 29th place team, which happens to be those same Cardinals – it must be a bird thing). That doesn’t figure to change in 2017, as the team’s powerful core remains intact, and new additions Welington Castillo and Seth Smith combined for two stolen base attempts between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The offense will once again be headlined by Future Yankee Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Adam Jones; it may be worth noting that Jones is coming off of his worst season since his rookie year, and will turn 32 this summer.

Possible Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Hyun Soo Kim, LF
  2. Manny Machado, 3B
  3. Chris Davis, 1B
  4. Mark Trumbo, DH
  5. Seth Smith, RF
  6. Adam Jones, F
  7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  8. Welington Castillo, C
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

The Orioles pitching staff was surprisingly average last year (98 ERA-, 99 FIP-, 102 xFIP-), but much of that owes to the team’s extraordinary bullpen. Zach Britton and his 0.54 ERA led the way, but Brad Brach (2.05 ERA) and Mychal Givens (3.13 ERA) were great, as well, as the unit combined for a 79 ERA- (21% above-league-average). The rotation was mostly a mess, though, with only Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman posting ERAs under 4.50. There is some potential there, with former top prospect Dylan Bundy finally getting healthy and showing promise, but the bullpen will likely carry a heavy load once more.

Possible Rotation:

  1. Kevin Gausman
  2. Chris Tillman (currently injured)
  3. Dylan Bundy
  4. Wade Miley
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez
  6. Mike Wright

Closer: Zach Britton

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Boston Red Sox

2016 Record: 93-69

Notable Additions: Mitch Moreland, Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg

Notable Subtractions: Clay Buchholz, Yoan Moncada, David Ortiz, Travis Shaw, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler

David Ortiz made his Red Sox debut fourteen years ago, in the team’s second game of the 2003 season. He started at first base and batted fifth, going 0-for-6 with 2 BB in a 16-inning affair against the then-Devil Rays. The rest is, and I apologize for the cliche, history. This year represents the beginning of a new era for the Red Sox, if not the division as a whole, and they still appear to be the team to beat, thanks to a strong farm system and a blockbuster deal.

The new face of the franchise might just be Mookie Betts, whose energy and big smile are reminiscent of Ortiz. Or it could be top prospect Andrew Benintendi, who looked right at home in 34 games in the Majors last year. Or it could be shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who just keeps getting better. Or it could simply be old standby Dustin Pedroia, who rebounded nicely from an injury plagued 2015. There’s no shortage of talent on offense, is what I’m getting at here – especially if the slimmed down Pablo Sandoval has figured things out.

Possible Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Dustin Pedroia, SS
  2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  3. Mookie Betts, RF
  4. Handley Ramirez, DH
  5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  6. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  7. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  8. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  9. Sandy Leon, C

Rick Porcello had a brilliant 2016, and won a Cy Young for his efforts … and he just might be the third-best starting pitcher on this team, depending upon how well David Price’s rehab goes. Said rehab is the largest concern with the team right now, even though they do have a bit more depth than usual in the rotation. Price isn’t the only pitcher slated to open the season on the DL, either, as new set-up man Tyler Thornburg deals with shoulder and back soreness.

Possible Rotation:

  1. Rick Porcello
  2. David Price (currently injured)
  3. Chris Sale
  4. Drew Pomeranz
  5. Eduardo Rodriguez
  6. Steven Wright

Closer: Craig Kimbrel

(Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Tampa Bay Rays

2016 Record: 68-94

Notable Additions: Jose De Leon, Wilson Ramos, Colby Rasmus, Mallex Smith

Notable Subtractions: Logan Forsythe, Drew Smyly

A bit over a week ago, the Rays signed two-time Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier to a six-year contract extension worth a minimum of $53.5 MM. It was met with praise by the analytical community as a whole, due to his elite defense in center field and solid offensive production, and he’s still a few weeks shy of his 27th birthday. It seems that the team’s shrewd maneuvering with contracts of this nature did not leave with Andrew Friedman.

The Rays offense was a bit better on a rate basis than you probably remember last year, placing 12th in the Majors in wRC+. They still finished 24th in runs scored, but that may not have been reflective of the group as a whole. That may not mean a whole lot for 2017, though, as several of their best hitters (Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer at the deadline, Logan Forsythe a few weeks ago) were traded away. Evan Longoria is still here though, the aforementioned Kiermaier managed 12 HR and 21 SB in just 105 games last year, and Brad Miller broke out in a big way; this won’t be a great group by any means, but there’s more than enough to build a competent lineup – particularly when Wilson Ramos and Colby Rasmus return from the DL. Their Opening Day lineup is in flux, so your guess is as good as mine as to who they’ll trot out there.

Possible Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Corey Dickerson, DH
  2. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Brad Miller, 2B
  5. Logan Morrison, 1B
  6. Steven Souza, RF
  7. Tim Beckham, SS
  8. Mallex Smith, LF
  9. Derek Norris, C

The Rays stand to open 2017 with one of the youngest rotations in baseball, with all five of their projected starters clocking in at between 24 and 29-years-old on Opening Day. Alex Cobb is battling lingering back soreness now, and if he were to miss the start of the season that average age would dip even further, as the 28-year-old Chris Archer would become the old man of the group. And, despite injuries and inconsistency, this unit has a great deal of potential from top to bottom, and that’s with top prospect Jose De Leon opening the season in the minors. The worst in the AL bullpen is another story entirely, though Alex Colome was terrific as the closer last year.

Possible Rotation:

  1. Chris Archer
  2. Jake Odorizzi
  3. Alex Cobb
  4. Blake Snell
  5. Matt Andriese

Closer: Alex Colome

(Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
(Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Toronto Blue Jays

2016 Record: 89-73

Notable Additions: J.P. Howell, Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce, Joe Smith

Notable Subtractions: Joaquin Benoit, Brett Cecil, R.A. Dickey, Edwin Encarnacion, Michael Saunders

On November 11, 2016, the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales to a 3-year, $33 MM contract, seemingly moving away from at least one of Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion. A bit less than two months later, the Indians made that decision for them, signing Encarnacion to a 3-year, $60 MM deal (with a $25 MM team option for 2020). The difference in those deals isn’t insignificant, but their haste to lock-up an inferior 1B/DH has placed their offense under the microscope in the short term.

The offense remains in relatively good shape nevertheless. 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson is a formidable presence in the middle of the lineup, a Steve Pearce/Justin Smoak platoon at first will maximize the production from the position, and the declining duo of Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki is still more than adequate. The lineup is top-heavy, but it stands to be decent in every slot.

Possible Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Devon Travis, 2B
  2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
  3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  4. Jose Bautista, RF
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Russell Martin, C
  7. Justin Smoak, 1B
  8. Kevin Pillar, CF
  9. Ezequiel Carrera, LF

The Blue Jays had a strong starting rotation last season, and that will be mostly intact in 2017 – R.A. Dickey will be replaced by Francisco Liriano, who was acquired by the team last summer. It will be difficult to replicate the health factor, as they had five pitchers make between 29 and 32 starts, but they have had that sort of luck a couple of years running. The rotation is backed-up by a mediocre bullpen, though off-season additions J.P. Howell and Joe Smith both come with strong track records.

Possible Rotation:

  1. Marco Estrada
  2. Aaron Sanchez
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. J.A. Happ
  5. Francisco Liriano

Closer: Roberto Osuna

Spring Training Game Thread: Final Grapefruit League Game

So long, Tampa. (Presswire)
So long, Tampa. (Presswire)

This afternoon the Yankees are playing their final Grapefruit League game of the year. They still have one exhibition game remaining, tomorrow night at the brand new SunTrust Field in Atlanta, but this is the final game in Florida. Well, at least until the Yankees come back to play the first series of the regular season against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Just can’t escape Tampa, huh?

What to watch today? Well, Luis Severino for one. The Yankees unofficially announced their Opening Day roster this morning and Severino will be the fourth starter to begin the season. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the fourth starter all season. He’ll have to pitch well to keep the job, because there are other guys waiting for their chance. Either way, it would be nice to see Luis end the spring on a high note. Here is the Phillies’ lineup and here are the players the Yankees sent across the bay to Clearwater:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Chris Carter
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. LF Aaron Hicks
  7. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Pete Kozma
    RHP Luis Severino

Available Pitchers: RHP Adam Warren, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.R. Graham, and RHP Matt Marsh are all expected to pitch. LHP Joe Mantiply, LHP Jason Gurka, LHP Nestor Cortes, and LHP Caleb Frare are all up from minor league camp to serve as the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Mike Ford, 2B Thairo Estrada, SS Cito Culver, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Rashad Crawford will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, C Jorge Saez, SS Kyle Holder, and OF Billy McKinney are the extra players. Everyone is up from minor league camp for the day.

The internet tells me it is sunny and warm in Clearwater this afternoon. Pretty much perfect baseball weather. The game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and if you’re in the Philadelphia market, you can watch today’s game on TCN. If not, MLB.tv is your only option. Enjoy the game.

Yankees finalize Opening Day roster; Holder, Mitchell, and Shreve make the bullpen

Holder. (Presswire)
Holder. (Presswire)

Earlier this morning, Joe Girardi informally announced the Yankees’ 25-man Opening Day roster. Aaron Judge will be the right fielder and Luis Severino will be the fourth starter, and the decision to option out Rob Refsnyder means Pete Kozma will be the utility infielder. Also, Girardi told Bryan Hoch that Bryan Mitchell, Jonathan Holder, and Chasen Shreve will be in the bullpen. Got all that?

The Yankees still need to open a 40-man roster spot for Kozma, though they have a few days to figure that out. The Opening Day roster itself doesn’t have to be finalized with the league until 12pm ET on Sunday, an hour before first pitch. Here’s the unofficial official roster:

CATCHERS (2)
Austin Romine
Gary Sanchez

INFIELDERS (6)
Chris Carter
Starlin Castro
Greg Bird
Chase Headley
Pete Kozma
Ronald Torreyes

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Jacoby Ellsbury
Brett Gardner
Aaron Hicks
Aaron Judge

DESIGNATED HITTER (1)
Matt Holliday

STARTING PITCHERS (4)
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Luis Severino
Masahiro Tanaka

RELIEF PITCHERS (8)
Dellin Betances
Aroldis Chapman
Tyler Clippard
Jonathan Holder
Tommy Layne
Bryan Mitchell
Chasen Shreve
Adam Warren

DISABLED LIST (2)
Tyler Austin (foot)
Didi Gregorius (shoulder)

The Yankees will carry eight relievers for the time being. The team has three off-days in the first ten days of the regular season, allowing them to skip their fifth starter the first two times through the rotation. They’ll do exactly that, then figure out the fifth starter later. They don’t need one until April 16th.

Rotation candidates Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Jordan Montgomery did not make the Opening Day roster, though it’s only a matter of time until we see those guys in the big leagues. The Yankees will need a fifth starter soon enough, and given his performance last year, I don’t think it’s a given Severino sticks in the rotation all season. Montgomery opened some eyes this spring and could be the first starter called up. We’ll see.

The Yankees open the regular season this Sunday, with a 1pm ET game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. They’ll start the season with a six-game road trip through Tampa and Baltimore before coming home. The home opener is Monday, April 10th. They’ll play the Rays again.

Girardi on Aaron Judge: “He’s our right fielder”

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Common sense prevails! Joe Girardi announced this morning Aaron Judge will be the Yankees’ starting right fielder this season, according to Erik Boland. “He’s our right fielder,” said Girardi. The club was reportedly considering sending Judge to Triple-A as recently as yesterday.

Judge, 24, is hitting .345/.406/.569 with three homers so far this spring. He’s also struck out only 13 times in 64 plate appearances, or 20.3%. That is a completely acceptable strikeout rate, though it comes with the obvious caveat that this is Spring Training and it’s 64 plate appearances. We’ll see what happens during the regular season.

Aaron Hicks, Judge’s primary competition for the right field job, has had a strong spring as well. He’s hitting .264/.361/.528 with three homers in 61 plate appearances. Hicks will again be the fourth outfielder, though my guess is he’ll get much more playing time this year. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury could get more days off.

With Judge being named the right fielder and Rob Refsnyder being optioned out, the position player portion of the roster is basically set. The Yankees just need to make a move to get Pete Kozma on the 40-man roster. There are still some open bullpen spots to be decided, however.

Rob Refsnyder Optioned to Triple-A

(Charles Wenzelberg)
(Charles Wenzelberg)

Earlier today, the Yankees announced that Rob Refsnyder had been optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26-year-old was batting just .209/.314/.349 in 43 at-bats, and was openly put on the trading block three weeks ago. There was some talk that he could have a shot at heading north in a bench role on the heels of the Didi Gregorius injury, but his inability to play shortstop made that a long shot, and his punchless Spring did little to force the team’s hand.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Refsnyder going forward. The Yankees may be looking to clear a 40-man roster spot, and at least one team – the Rays – was interested in Refsnyder’s services. I wouldn’t be shocked if a (tremendously underwhelming) trade was in the near future.

This move also means that Pete Kozma will be the team’s utility infielder to start the season, as confirmed by George A. King III. He’s a career .222/.288/.293 (58 wRC+) hitter that hasn’t played in the Majors since 2015, but he has a fine glove at shortstop (9.7 UZR/150 in 1399 innings at the position) and experience at second and third, to boot. Kozma is an unexciting player at best, though that is true of most utility infielders – and it’s doubtful that he sees all that much playing time, barring another injury, so it makes sense to use a fungible piece in this role.

Passan: Yankees will use Luis Severino as fourth starter

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Jeff Passan, right-hander Luis Severino has made the Opening Day roster and the Yankees will use him as their fourth starter. Neither Joe Girardi nor anyone with the team has announced anything yet, however. Still, all signs point in this direction. This isn’t exactly a surprise.

Severino, 23, has allowed six runs in 13.2 innings so far this spring. He’s struck out 16 and walked five. Severino will start this afternoon’s game in what will be his final tune-up for the regular season, regardless of role. He’s had his ups and downs this spring, though apparently the Yankees saw enough to give him another chance to start.

Last season Severino was a disaster as a starter, pitching to an 8.50 ERA (5.56 FIP) in eleven starts and 47.2 innings. Yikes. He was much better in relief (0.39 ERA and 2.29 FIP). That said, Severino was pretty awesome for the Yankees in 2015, throwing 62.1 innings with a 2.89 ERA (4.37 FIP) in eleven starts. That’s who they’re hoping to get in 2017.

Girardi said yesterday the Yankees will not announce a fifth starter anytime soon. They’ll use off-days to skip their fifth starter the first two times through the rotation, then figure it out later. Based on everything we’ve seen this spring, I’d say Bryan Mitchell and Jordan Montgomery are the front-runners for that job.