TAMPA, Fla. -- Luis Severino had been cautioned that arbitration would not be a fun experience, voicing a desire to avoid the process. About thirty minutes before he and the Yankees would have gone head-to-head in a St. Petersburg conference room, both sides instead celebrated an agreement that provides the right-hander with financial security for generations.
Severino and the Yankees agreed Friday to a four-year, $40 million extension that includes a club option for 2023 that could swell the pact's total value to $52.25 million. Accompanied by his wife, Rosmaly, Severino beamed as he discussed what he called "a fair deal" on Saturday morning at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
"It gives me a lot of confidence," said Severino, who turns 25 on Wednesday. "Every time I'm in the gym now, I'll be smiling. It's a lot of security for my family. That doesn't mean I'm going to change my workout or trying to be the best. I'm going to be the same guy that I was."
Severino's news conference was attended by the Yankees' starting pitchers, with CC Sabathia, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Masahiro Tanaka taking seats alongside reporters. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, the Yankees' general partner/vice chairperson, watched from the front row.
"It means a lot to me," Severino said. "Since I got here, CC Sabathia has been the guy that I look up to. He's the veteran of the rotation. He's always been there for me, every time I need something, advice or something like that. I'll go to CC. This is like a family."
Severino and the Yankees had been $850,000 apart with their exchange of figures, with the pitcher filing at $5.25 million. The club countered at $4.4 million, and general manager Brian Cashman said that previous attempts to reach an extension had failed, including a meeting that was held late on Thursday evening.
With both sides preparing for a 9:30 a.m. ET hearing on Friday, Cashman invited Severino's agent, Nelson Montes de Oca, to visit his suite at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort.
"Fortunately, we were at the same place at the right time, so we got together and we worked out a deal," Montes de Oca said. "We were prepared to go to arbitration. We were never expecting this call from there. We sat down and we talked and we got things going."
Cashman said that he sensed an atmosphere that was "better or different" than it had been previously, helping the GM and the agent hammer out the framework of a contract.
"We both said that we'd rather not walk into this hearing and do whatever we have to do when there really should be common ground we are finding here," Cashman said. "It's always good to keep channels open, because it ultimately led to a great payday."
A two-time All-Star, Severino earned $604,975 last season, when he went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts. He will receive a $2 million signing bonus, $4 million in 2019, $10 million in '20, $10.25 million in '21 and $11 million in '22.
"I remember the first thing when Sevy came into my hotel room, I just said, 'I'm happy for you and your family,'" Cashman said. "That's a huge amount of money that he's earned and put himself in position to be considered to get."
The deal ensures that Severino will receive a significant portion prior to the December 2021 expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"We thought about that. That's one of the things that we took into consideration," Montes de Oca said. "It was mainly to make sure Sevy was secure for the rest of his career and the rest of his life, and hopefully baseball doesn't get that work stoppage."
The pact came one day after the Phillies formally announced a four-year, $45 million extension with right-hander Aaron Nola, which Cashman said had helped to set the going rate.
"We're file-and-trial, so we were fully prepared -- as they were -- to go try the case," Cashman said. "But the new data point with Nola was very instructive."
Severino and his wife celebrated on Friday evening by making a reservation at Ocean Prime, an upscale seafood restaurant in Tampa.
"We went to dinner with some friends," Severino said. "We drank some wine, but nothing crazy. ... This is my first time getting money like that. A lot of people are going to come to me. Maybe I'll have more family than I used to have."
Severino said that one of his first telephone calls was with his mother, Matilde, who lives in the Dominican Republic. She asked if he had won his arbitration case.
"No, I didn't win," Severino told her. "But I got $40 million. She said, 'Oh, that's more than $5 million.'"