Luis Severino looks on from the dugout during a game between...

 Luis Severino looks on from the dugout during a game between the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, July 9, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The first piece of the Mets’ rotation reconstruction is in place: Luis Severino.

They agreed on a one-year, $13 million contract with the longtime Yankees righthander, pending a physical, a source confirmed to Newsday Wednesday night. That is the first of what the Mets expect to be multiple moves involving starting pitchers this offseason.

A deal between the Mets and Severino represents a practical partnership given the needs of both sides.

The Mets are seeking arms for their bare-bones rotation, and Severino is a medium-risk, potentially high-reward option. If he is good and the team is good, that works out. If he is good and the team isn’t, they can trade him. If he is bad, oh well, it’s only a one-year deal.

Severino, meanwhile, is looking to rejuvenate his career, and the Mets can give him every opportunity to stick as a starter following what he described as “the worst year of my life in baseball” in 2023.

A so-called pillow contract — i.e., a soft landing and just a bit of financial/professional comfort — provides the player an opportunity to become a free agent again the following offseason, potentially cashing in if he can re-establish himself. But given Severino’s messy past half-decade, that is no guarantee — and therein lies the risk for the Mets.

Severino, who turns 30 in February, has been dogged by injuries and/or ineffectiveness since 2019. That was when he signed what became a five-year, $52.25 million contract once the Yankees exercised their team option for the fifth season.

Over the life of that deal, Severino averaged only nine games and 42 innings per season. In addition to Tommy John surgery in 2020, he dealt with shoulder, lat and oblique injuries, including a pair of stays on the injured list that bookended his 2023.

Severino, for a while, was able to maintain a very-good-when-healthy image, but that ended last season.

In 19 games between injuries, he posted a 6.65 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, by far the worst numbers of his career. He allowed more hits and home runs and racked up fewer strikeouts than in the past. Watching up close was Mets manager Carlos Mendoza, who was the Yankees’ bench coach.

“It’s been a pretty tough year physically, mentally,” Severino said after suffering what became a season-ending oblique injury. “I just wanted to be out there, be healthy, be helping my team.”

That degree of struggling left Severino and the Yankees dumbfounded. He was healthy enough to be on the mound and was throwing harder than he had at any point in his contract — averaging 96.5 and touching 100 mph with his fastball — but couldn’t get batters out.

“He’s obviously, at times, been a great pitcher,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in September. “The start of his career as a starter was so promising as really one of the dominant starters. Even through the injuries that he’s experienced over the last few years, when he has been healthy, he’s shown you that performance.”

Severino’s high ceiling is why the Mets are comfortable giving him a chance. As recently as 2022, when he had a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts, and most significantly in 2017-18, when he had a 3.18 ERA over his only two full seasons and landed third- and ninth-place finishes in AL Cy Young Award voting, Severino has proved capable of being a front-of-the-rotation pitcher.

That is what the Mets are looking for. Once his deal is finalized, Severino will join Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana as the only starters under contract for 2024.

President of baseball operations David Stearns said he planned to add “multiple” rotation pieces this offseason. That leaves at least one and potentially two more acquisitions.

Whether that is a top-flight arm like Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto or a trade piece such as Corbin Burnes or Dylan Cease or a lower-tier starter is to be decided.

“I’m not going to put a firm number on it,” Stearns said this month, “but certainly I think multiple.”

With David Lennon

Luis Severino's disastrous 2023 season was a far cry from his All-Star seasons in 2017 and 2018.


W-L 4-8

ERA 6.65

WHIP 1.646


W-L 54-37

ERA 3.79

WHIP 1.185

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