Source: Mets won't try to void K-Rod's deal, will attempt to avoid payment for 2010

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I just heard that the Mets have decided that they (a) will not attempt to void Francisco Rodriguez’s deal as a result of his little fracas with his girlfriend’s father, but they will (b) attempt to avoid paying him the balance of his 2010 salary as a result of him suffering a non-baseball-related injury. The mechanism for doing this is to place K-Rod on the disqualified list, which they have done as of this evening.

UPDATE: My source tells me the Mets may also try to render the deal non-guaranteed as well. If successful, this step, while short of voiding the contract, would allow the Mets to simply cut K-Rod if he doesn’t make the team next year.  However (a) if he did make the team out of camp the deal would become guaranteed once again; and (b) if they cut him despite him being healthy and able, would likely lead to a whole other grievance by the union.

The union may even try to fight K-Rod’s move to the disqualified list, however. Why? Because according to my source, the Mets considered the discipline of all of this to be sorted as of Thursday with the two-game suspension. The injury changed things, however.  What this means philosophically, though, is that the team is, in effect, trying to punish the injury with a substantially larger sanction (50+ games worth of pay) than the arguably criminal transgression (2 games).  On the one hand this may be semantics. It may matter a lot to an arbitrator, however.

I discussed the ethics of all of this this morning and found it, well, weird. The Mets may have been better off putting him on the restricted list and leveling a longer overall suspension upon reflection once all of the details were in. They didn’t, though, they were content to let his punishment be two games only, and now they could be stuck with that if K-Rod fights this thing.

From a legal perspective, given how difficult it is to discipline a player in the first place, let alone discipline a player when an injury is involved, the Mets’ plant to dock him of his 2010 pay may be a tall order.  If you cast all of that aside, however, it seems like a rather equitable result given that (a) K-Rod did screw the Mets out of the remainder of this season’s services; but (b) will likely be ready to go in 2011.  Voiding the deal beyond this year seemed like an overreach for the Mets.

As for how it will go on the ground, well, we shall see.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.