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Yankees, Luis Severino have discussed contract extension

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Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees and starter Luis Severino have had discussions about a contract extension, although nothing is expected to be resolved anytime soon.

Severino and the Yankees are expected to go to an arbitration hearing. The right-hander filed for a $5.25 million salary while the Yankees countered at $4.4 million. Severino has three more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so a possible extension would likely cover at least those three years and likely one or two years of his initial free agent years.

Severino, 24, finished ninth in AL Cy Young Award balloting last season, going 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a 220/46 K/BB ratio in 191 1/3 innings. He also finished third in AL Cy Young Award balloting in 2017.

Like the Phillies and starter Aaron Nola, the Yankees may prefer to get an extension done ahead of the hearing so they don’t have to bad-mouth their star pitcher to his face. As Randy Miller of NJ.com reports, Severino remembers how the club handled its arbitration hearing with reliever Dellin Betances and agent Jim Murray in 2017. After the Yankees won the arbitration hearing against Betances, president Randy Levine said in a conference call with reporters, “[Betances’ argument] is like me saying I’m not the president of the Yankees, I’m an astronaut.” Levine continued, “What his agents did was make him a victim of a attempt to change a market place in baseball that has been well established for 30, 40 years.”

Murray said in 2017, “It was very ironic to hear the Yankees’ president express his love and affection when he spent the only portion of the hearing, to which he contributed to, was calling this player by the wrong first name. It is Dellin, for the record. He then proceeded to blame Dellin for the Yankees’ declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history while trying to bully the panel, saying something to the effect that the sky will fall if they rule for the player.”

Severino said today, “I hear it’s not a good experience, but at the end of the day this is a job, so they’re going to do anything they can to save some money. I understand that. If I win or lose, at the end of the day, I’ll come here to pitch.”

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.