Link-O-Rama: Saito getting expensive for Red Sox

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* Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Takashi Saito’s next appearance out of the Red Sox’s bullpen will earn him a $500,000 bonus, and then after that he gets another $500,000 for every five outings. So far Saito’s incentive-laden contract has paid him $5 million for 48.2 innings of a 2.59 ERA and 46/21 K/BB ratio.
Boston holds a 2010 team option on Saito that is based on his final 2009 salary, which makes any bonus money he earns this month particularly important. Right now my guess is that the 40-year-old won’t be back with the Red Sox next season, but he’s certainly pitched well.
* Venezuela defeated the United States in the World Cup opener last night, as Marlins minor leaguer Nate Field served up a grand slam in the 11th inning. Team USA will now have to beat both Germany and China to advance to the second round.
* Boxing promoter Bob Arum and Yankees officials talked yesterday about possibly holding marquee fights at the new Yankee Stadium. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com notes that Arum was the promoter behind the Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton fight at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976.
* Not only has reliever Craig Breslow posted a 3.00 ERA and 37/16 K/BB ratio in 45 innings for the A’s since the Twins misguidedly put him on waivers, he might be the smartest player in baseball.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.