TAMPA, Fla. — Luis Severino recalled with a laugh the conversation he had with his mother, Matilde, on Friday night when he called home to the Dominican Republic.
“She [asked] me, ‘What happened, did you win?’ ” he said Saturday. “I said, ‘No, I didn’t win, but I got $40 million,’ and she said, ‘That’s more than $5 million.’ ’’
At the last moment Friday, Severino and the Yankees avoided an arbitration hearing scheduled for that afternoon that neither side wanted. Severino had asked for $5.25 million, the Yankees had countered with $4.4 million and they came together on a four-year, $40 million extension that includes a club option in 2023.
The deal was finalized in general manager Brian Cashman’s room at the Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg, where the arbitration hearing was scheduled to take place.
“I hear it’s not a good experience to go there,” Severino said of the arbitration process. Close friend Dellin Betances went through it in 2017, and the result was some ugliness inside and outside the hearing room.
Severino added, “Like I’ve said, I want to be a Yankee. I thought it was a fair deal for me and my family and we did it.”
Cashman, along with the rest of the Yankees’ arbitration team, had been prepared to present the club’s case. He was more than pleased to postpone the hearing as the deal was finalized and ultimately cancel it.
“We both said we’d rather not walk into this hearing and do whatever we have to do when there really should be common ground that we can be finding here,” said Cashman, calling the four-year, $45 million deal the Phillies recently worked out with 25-year-old Aaron Nola a template of sorts for the Severino extension. “We gave a little, they gave a little and once that started happening, we got momentum.”
Cashman continued, “I remember the first thing when Sevy came into my hotel room, I said, ‘I’m happy for you and your family.’ That’s obviously a huge amount of money that he’s earned. It’s not easy when you’re on this side of the fence to give that type of stuff either, to take on the risk when you don’t have to. But we’re betting on the player. We know injuries happen, but in terms of the makeup and the competitive nature and obviously the performance we’ve seen, he’s been special since the day we signed him.”
Severino, who will turn 25 Wednesday, is 41-25 with a 3.51 ERA in four years with the Yankees, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in December 2011.
With young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez among those who will be arbitration-eligible next offseason, Cashman was asked about working out longer-term deals with them, or others such as Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and Betances, who will be free agents after the season.
“I’m not going to say on individual cases,” Cashman said. “We’ve approached certain players and we are always open for the right people to do things and find common ground if that’s at all possible. We’ve had conversations with some, not all, but if they lead to multiyears, great, this one did. Other attempts so far have failed.”
Cashman said going into an arbitration hearing is always something he wants to avoid.
“We don’t wind up in a hearing unless we’re dragged into a hearing,” he said. “I pride myself, and I think this organization prides itself, on trying to do deals that are representative of the marketplace. I like to pay players what they’re worth. I think Sevy described this as a ‘fair’ deal. This is one where we take risk and he gets cost certainty, he gets guaranteed dollars. I think it’s a win-win for all parties.”