Jon Heyman really, really wants Johnny Damon and Scott Boras to get paid

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman is sometimes accused of being a mouthpiece for agent Scott Boras. Heyman understandably doesn’t like that and tries to squash the notion, but sometimes it’s awfully tough not to get that impression.
Boras’ highest profile client among remaining free agents is Johnny Damon and Heyman has been giving daily (and sometimes hourly) updates about all the teams supposedly interested in the 36-year-old outfielder. His latest column takes that to a whole different level, beginning with this intro:

Damon, with the matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage, is starring in his very own soap opera this winter. At first, it was thought that he was going to cash in big-time following his home run of a regular season and his World Series heroics. Then it appeared to many he was going to be shut out, the winter’s biggest loser. Now it looks like he’s going to do just fine, maybe even better than fine.

That reads like a cross between romance novel and sales pitch. Not only does Damon have “matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage” he’s “going to do just fine, maybe even better than fine” despite turning down offers that will surely top whatever he ends up with. Heyman goes on to criticize the Yankees for choosing to replace Damon with Nick Johnson at a fraction of the price and then writes:

Damon was supposedly hankering for a multiyear deal. Yet, now that he is said to have offers for one and two years from the Tigers, he is thought to be considering taking a one-year offer from either them, the White Sox or Braves over the two-year offer.

There is no “supposedly” about Damon’s desire for a multi-year deal. If he was willing to take one year this whole time he’d have signed already and would likely still be with the Yankees. And the notion that he’s now being offered multi-year deals from several teams but may decide, at age 36, to accept a one-year contract is … well, people have sold bridges in Brooklyn with less outlandish sales pitches.

It can’t possibly be because he doesn’t love Detroit. He’s been publicly cited as a lover of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman and even octopi.

Well, obviously if he claims to like the local hockey team, one of that team’s greatest players, and creatures fans throw onto the ice, the Tigers would be making a huge mistake by not signing him. Or something.

In a sometimes dead winter, Damon has been our saving grace. We can only hope that he can keep the mystery going for one more week, when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

This actually strikes me as a rare bit of pure, unbiased honesty, because Heyman has written approximately 50 million words about Damon during the past three months.

Everyone in baseball is watching to see whether baseball’s most famous agent, Scott Boras, will finally be stuck with a bad deal on a very good player. And a few undoubtedly are hoping.

I’m amused by the spin that Damon signing for less than he was offered by the Yankees would represent Boras “finally” making a bad deal, as if he’s never mis-stepped previously.

All the early talk of multiyear megadeals and public suggestions that Damon shouldn’t receive a pay cut from the $13 million he made each of the last four seasons unrealistically raised the bar at a time his demographic was falling in free agency.

Saving the best for last, Heyman is now suggesting that the “public” rather than his hyperbole-spewing, hype-machine agent was behind reports of Damon not wanting to accept a pay cut. Apparently it’s all our fault. Sorry, Johnny.

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.