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Yankees, Luis Severino agree to four-year, $40 million contract extension

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Luis Severino and the New York Yankees were expected to go to an arbitration hearing, but it was called off. The Yankees signed Luis Severino to a four-year, $40 million contract extension through the 2022 season, with a club option for the 2023 season.

The year-by-year details, according to Jeff Passan:

2019: $4M+$2M bonus
2020: $10M
2021: $10.25M
2022: $11M
2023 (club option): $15M with $2.75M buyout

To put that in perspective, two pitchers who just won in their third year of arbitration — Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole — will make $13 million and $13.5 million, respectively. This is a maximum guaranteed $52.25 million deal for five years for one of the best pitchers in the game. Based on various projections for arbitration for Severino, he’s probably costing himself as much as $15 million over the deal’s first four years and several million if the Yankees pick up the 2023 option. That said — as is the case with all such extensions — this gives him money in the bank now and protection against injury.

Severino filed for a $5.25 million salary while the Yankees countered at $4.4 million. Aaron Nola, who was also in his first year of arbitration-eligibility but who was not a Super 2, recently agreed to a four-year, $45 million extension with the Phillies with a similar fifth-year option.

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.

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.