Luis Severino’s next pitch will come for the Yankees, not for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
The oft-injured right-hander was not given permission by general manager Brian Cashman to pitch in the WBC, which begins next month.
The decision wasn’t all that surprising given how much time Severino has lost to injuries since signing a four-year, $40 million extension prior to the 2019 season.
The Yankees picked up the $15 million team option earlier in the offseason, which will make the deal worth $52.5 million over five years, despite Severino having pitched in just 26 regular season games over the previous four seasons.
“We support our players going [to the WBC], but when certain players, like Luis Severino, who’ve had an injury history the last few years … that’s not in our best interest,’’ Cashman said during an appearance on 670 The Score in Chicago. “Having him pitch competitive, championship-contending World Baseball Classic innings in March versus preparatory innings [during spring training] in March for a long-haul season, it’s a decision I had to make, and I’m very comfortable making it.”
Severino will turn 29 later this month and was limited to seven regular season games over three seasons, due in part to Tommy John surgery and other arm issues, before returning to relatively good health last year.
Even then, Severino was sidelined by a strained right lat for much of the second half. It resulted in a stint on the 60-day IL that Severino publicly disagreed with before he returned to make three starts at the end of the regular season and two more starts in the playoffs.
He is set to become a free agent for the first time following this season, and Cashman said he’s hoping to get the most out of the right-hander, without risking another injury in the WBC.
“I respect that he wanted to play, but I’ve got to protect the Yankees, first and foremost,’’ Cashman said. “He’s too important to us, and with the injury history the last few years, it’s better he get out of the gate nice and slow.”
The Yankees aren’t the only team to make a similar decision, with Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto saying he and right-hander Luis Castillo agreed he wouldn’t pitch in the WBC.
Severino is expected to be a key part of an upgraded Yankees rotation that added free agent lefty Carlos Rodon to join Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes, as well as Frankie Montas, who is expected to miss the first month of the season with lingering right shoulder woes.
Cortes, who tossed a career-high 158 ¹/₃ innings in the regular season plus 12 more in the playoffs, is expected to pitch for Team USA in the tournament.