Yankees hope to find impact from RHP Luis Severino after eschewing trade

ByWallace Matthews ESPN logo
Saturday, August 1, 2015

CHICAGO -- The New York Yankees made no significant additions at the trade deadline but are about to make an eagerly awaited addition to their pitching staff in the coming days.

General manager Brian Cashman, after being shut out in efforts to bring San Diego Padres closer Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees, announced on Friday he will promote Luis Severino, a 21-year-old right-hander who is the top pitching prospect in the Yankees organization, to the big league club.

"Severino will, I think, be making his next start at the big league level for us," Cashman said on a conference call with Yankees beat writers before Friday night's 13-6 win over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. "I am doubling down on what we've got."

Severino, in fact, was one of the main reasons the Yankees were unable to make a deal for a top-flight starting pitcher. Along with power-hitting outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Jorge Mateo, Severino is considered an untouchable by the Yankees, and Cashman refused to part with any of the four.

"Those guys are tough to move for us," Cashman said. "Most people basically wanted the most immediate talent that can be in the major leagues by this year or next year. It was a challenge getting anybody off those guys, to be honest."

So instead of Kimbrel, David Price or Cole Hamels, it will be Severino -- who is 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA for Triple-A Scranton since being promoted from Double-A Trenton in May -- who will be making his Yankees debut sometime after the team returns to New York on Monday. With the loss of Michael Pineda for at least a month with a forearm strain, Severino is expected to step in and take a regular turn in the rotation for the remainder of the season.

Cashman said the Yankees managed Severino's innings early in the season in anticipation that he would be called up to the major leagues sometime this season.

"I can't say he was always in, but if everything went well and we needed him, we knew we would call him up," Cashman said. "But only if we needed him, and only if he earned it. Well, he's earned it. He's somebody we're excited about."

Severino pitched on Wednesday for Scranton and probably would not be ready to pitch again until Tuesday, when the Yankees open a three-game series at home against the Boston Red Sox.

"He's moved really fast through the system and obviously had a lot of success," Cashman said. "So we'll see what the next step for this youngster is."

Citing MLB's rules against tampering, Cashman declined to provide specifics on a prospective deal for Kimbrel, an addition that would have given the Yankees a three-headed monster of late-inning relief along with All-Star setup man Dellin Betances and closer Andrew Miller. But he did say the Yankees were "not close" to making a deal as the clock ticked away to the 2015 deadline.

"Over the last few weeks, we engaged in tire-kicking and spitballing with all clubs to try to come up with a match that would improve our club, whether it was on the offensive or defensive, the pitching side, but [I] was unable to obviously get anything done," Cashman said, pointing out that several weeks ago he indicated the Yankees would not part with any of their top prospects to make a short-term deal.

"I did communicate with our fan base, through all of your outlets early in the process, with a prediction that I didn't think I was going to be able to do much because there were certain assets I was not planning on moving," he said. "Rest assured, there's a lot of names I talked to with a lot of teams, some that are public, some that aren't public. We could not find a match."

The one trade the Yankees did make was with the Seattle Mariners, acquiring utilitymanDustin Ackleyin exchange for minor leaguers Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez. Ackley, 27, will serve as a backup at the corner outfield positions and at first and second base and will replace Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment.

"He has a much better defensive profile [than Jones] with, I think, maybe not too dissimilar an offensive profile," Cashman said. "I think it just gives us a little more flexibility, a little more youth as we move forward."

Despite failing to make a big splash at the trade deadline, Cashman said he believes the Yankees -- who hold a six-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jaysin the AL East after Friday's games -- have enough talent on the roster to play deep into October.

"I like the team we have," Cashman said. "I know that we are obviously dealing with some recent trouble, and we certainly are reacting to that trouble to try to fortify it. I approached this deadline with discipline but also with aggressiveness at the same time. We're certainly not holding anything back other than the fact that we are holding onto certain prized possessions that we believe are going to impact us in a real positive way. Winning the division and hopefully winning a world championship is still our intention, and hopefully, these guys will help us do that."