By Brendan Kuty
At last season’s trade deadline, starting pitcherLuis Severino was among Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s three untouchable prospects, a group that also included first baseman Greg Bird and right fielder Aaron Judge.
But some time before that, of course, Severino — like all prospects before they look like sure bets — was on the table. And apparently the Braves wanted him.
According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien, Atlanta general manager John Coppolella recently said he tried trading for Severino, who impressed in his rookie debut last season.
Severino, 21, went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees after getting called up in August. He’s expected to be in team’s starting rotation next season.
Coppolella, according to the report, he said he made a “strong run” at Severino.
But before making that admission, Coppolella offered some vague details of a deal he’d worked on that didn’t work out. It sounded like he was talking about Severino.
Coppolella said “had a shot to trade a player this past season for a guy who’s now ranked as a top-50 prospect in the game,” but the player the Braves planned to trade got hurt. “And by the time we tried to make the trade, that prospect had shot up the charts and they wouldn’t even talk about the player.”
It’s impossible to use those clues to know definitively the players Coppolella was discussing. But we can try to piece it together a little bit.
On April 5, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Braves told teams that if they wanted closer Craig Kimbrel, they’d have to also take Melvin Upton and his bad contract. Yankees weren’t interested, Sherman said. But the Padres were, and the on the day before Opening Day, San Deigo sent Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Jordan Paroubeck and Matt Wisler to Atlanta for Kimbrel and Upton.
So, the Yankees at least discussed Kimbrel/Upton. And in late February, Upton hurt his left foot and started the season on the 15-day disabled list. And throughout the first half of the season, Severino dominated at Double-A and then went 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA at Triple-A, shooting himself up just about everybody’s top prospects lists. Finally, at the trade deadline, the Yankees discussed Kimbrel with the Padres, but the deal didn’t work out, and San Diego sent him to Boston recently.
Does that deal framework — Upton/Kimbrel for Severino — at least make sense? I think so. Is it definite? Can’t say. Does it matter now? Not really. But is it interesting as a look into how the Yankees were operating before the 2015 season? You bet.