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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.”

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.