Mendoza, who served as the Yankees bench coach the past three seasons, said that while the two-time All-Star who signed with the Mets earlier this offseason has “been through a lot the past couple of years with injuries,” he saw his talent and a lively fastball shine through toward the end of last season.
President of Baseball Operations David Stearns echoed the skipper’s sentiments.
“This is a really talented pitcher, first of all, he’s demonstrated that, he’s performed in New York,” he said from Nashville. “He’s battled some injuries we think he is on the backend of those and we think we can help him stay healthy."
While the one-year deal protects the Mets, there is still the risk that comes with signing a soon-to-be 30-year-old pitcher who missed the 2020 season, most of the 2021 season, the start of the 2022 season and the start of the 2023 season due to injury.
“Obviously, the goal is to keep him healthy, right?” the skipper said. “And this is something we need to work on with him and his people and our people here. But excited to have Sevy on board.”
Overall, Severino has made just 37 starts and pitched 191.1 innings in the last two years, but Stearns believes the righty is putting in the work this offseason.
“I think he’s working tremendously hard this offseason to put himself in a place where he can stay on the mound. He’s very motivated to do so,” Stearns continued. “I think he understands the importance of this year in his overall career arc and we’re gonna do everything we can to support him in that.”
Mendoza said he was able to speak with Severino about “where he is at physically and mentally” and “it seems like he’s in a good spot right now working with his trainers back home.”
“We finally were able to put our hands, our people from our medical department were able to go through his medicals and all that, and it’s encouraging,” he added. “And it’s something that [Severino] knows that he’s maybe more athletic, some things physically that he feels like he needs to work on. And as we move forward here, we’ll have those conversations with him as well with our pitching coach and our training department.”
Stearns said he believes Severino is changing some of his training program this offseason, but said he would allow the pitcher to address specifically what he was doing differently once spring training begins.
Of course, another concern for New York is that Severino pitched last season he struggled, with a 6.65 ERA, 6.14 FIP, 1.646 WHIPand 23 home runs allowed – all of which marked career highs. career highs. Stearns said the organization “has some ideas” on what went wrong for last season on the mound.
“I think it’s a combination of maybe some subtle changes in his stuff, I think some of which, frankly, has been talked about publicly there’s some pretty good analysis in the public form,” he said with a wide smile. “And some of it, look there was bad luck. He did suffer from misfortune last year. If we can help him with the health, oftentimes the health contributes to the stuff.
“And then if we can have a little bit of a reversion to a normal luck and fortune environment, we think we have a really good pitcher.”
Despite his recent struggles with injuries, Mendoza said the one thing the veteran never struggled with was keeping the right mentality.
“Look, he went through a lot, but the one thing that Sevy’s got, is he wants to take the ball,” the manager said. “Whenever he can, he wants to take the ball. He’s a competitor. We’ve seen it in the past in the biggest stage, right? In New York, when in the biggest moment, he wants to be there, he wants to compete. And that’s what we are all excited about.”
Stearns added that Severino was a target of the organization before Mendoza’s hiring, but the new manager’s endorsement helped seal the deal.
“Mendy’s contributions and reinforcement about what type of person he is and competitor, really just reinforced our interest,” he said