Mets sign Jon Niese to five-year, $25.5 million contract

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Jon Niese’s long-term contract with the Mets is now official, with Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger reporting that the five-year deal is worth $25.5 million in guaranteed money and covers all three arbitration eligible seasons plus his first year of free agency.

It also includes a sixth-year team option for $10 million and a seventh-year team option for $10.5 million, meaning Niese could potentially earn as much as $46 million over seven seasons.

Not even close to, say, Matt Cain money, but not bad for a guy with a 4.39 ERA in 371 career innings spent in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes that the contract is very similar to Derek Holland’s recent five-year, $28.5 million deal with the Rangers, which also included a pair of option years.

Niese’s secondary numbers suggest he’s capable of taking a step forward, in which case the Mets will have been smart to lock him up now, but he’s also never thrown even 175 innings in a season. If nothing else, between the $25.5 million from the Mets and the $10,000 from former teammate Carlos Beltran to pay for his nose job Niese has moved safely ahead of Eric Nies in the Nies/Niese rankings.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.