NEW YORK -- A Mets team in dire need of starting pitching began filling that void with a former standout from its neighboring borough. The team signed right-hander Luis Severino to a one-year deal, the club announced Friday. The deal with is worth $13 million a source told MLB.com, marking the first major signing of the David Stearns era.
The Mets also agreed to terms with infielder Joey Wendle on a one-year contract that the team announced on Thursday evening. Sources told MLB.com that Wendle's deal is worth $2 million.
Severino, 29, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Yankees, including All-Star seasons in 2017 and '18. But injuries began affecting him in a profound way via a right rotator cuff strain in 2019, followed by Tommy John surgery in '20. Lat and oblique issues have since affected Severino, who made 18 starts last season and produced a 6.65 ERA.
As such, the range of outcomes for Severino in 2024 is wide. He remains one of the game’s hardest-throwing pitchers, ranking in the 88th percentile in fastball velocity. But he has not produced a full, healthy season in half a decade, and he struggled throughout the '23 campaign.
Even so, Severino is a risk well worth taking for the Mets, given their hope of putting a contender on the field without agreeing to too many new long-term contracts. At his best, Severino profiles as an ace-like talent still a few months shy of his 30th birthday; it’s his injury history and lack of recent success that made him available on a one-year deal. At worst, he is a $13 million budget line for an organization that can afford such mistakes.
At this juncture, every arm the Mets can acquire is crucial. The team now has three starters under guaranteed contract in Kodai Senga, José Quintana and Severino. New York ranks among the favorites to land star Japanese free-agent ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well, though it faces stiff competition from other big-market clubs on that front. Stearns, the club’s new president of baseball operations, has said he expects the Mets to land multiple starting pitchers this winter -- that could mean two or three on guaranteed deals, depending upon how the rest of the offseason unfolds, plus others on Minor League contracts.
The Mets also figure to add more offense even after acquiring Wendle, a 33-year-old veteran of the A’s, Rays and Marlins. Best known for his versatility, Wendle has played five defensive positions throughout an eight-year career, spending most of his time at second base, third and shortstop. The left-handed hitter was an All-Star in 2021, slashing .265/.319/.422 with 11 home runs and 31 doubles. But Wendle struggled over the past two seasons with Miami, slashing .238/.275/.335.
In New York, Wendle offers the Mets insurance at second base should they choose to use Jeff McNeil in the outfield, and at third in the event that Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos fail to distinguish themselves next spring. His presence also makes a trade of one of those three even more plausible.
The other notable aspect of the agreements is that both Severino and Wendle agreed to one-year deals. Team owner Steve Cohen has called 2024 a bridge year for the Mets, who hope to avoid saddling themselves with long-term deals as their farm system matures. While targets such as Yamamoto are potential exceptions, the Mets intend to acquire more players like Severino and Wendle who will be off the books by the time their system bears more regular fruit.
Even with two Major League contracts on the board, the Mets will stay busy at the Winter Meetings next week and throughout December. Their primary needs include one or two more starting pitchers, a power-hitting corner outfielder or DH type and several relievers.