Yankees find their platoon bat in Marcus Thames

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For much of the offseason the assumption has been that the Yankees would sign a right-handed bat to platoon with Brett Gardner or Randy Winn in left field, and now SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that they’ve found their man in Marcus Thames.
Thames actually came up through the Yankees’ farm system after being a 30th-round pick in 1996, but New York traded him to Texas for Ruben Sierra in mid-2003 and then Detroit signed him off the scrap heap a short time later.
He’s spent the past six seasons as a part-time player for the Tigers, getting around 350 plate appearances per year against primarily left-handed pitching. Thames has elite raw power, averaging 33 homers per 500 at-bats, but has hit just .234 with an ugly .291 on-base percentage against right-handers during his career.
However, the Yankees have plenty of left-handed bats to plug into the lineup against righties and will simply need Thames to knock around left-handed pitching, which he’s done to the tune of .256/.329/.516. Right now it looks like Winn and Gardner will compete for the left field job, with the winner forming a platoon with the 32-year-old Thames and the loser serving as fourth outfielder.

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.