Tom Seaver: Atlanta Brave

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And now for my second Tom Seaver reference in an hour.

Mark Armour is a fabulous baseball researcher. He’s the man in charge of the Society for American Baseball Research’s indispensable Baseball Biography project. He also just finished what stands to become the definitive book on Joe Cronin, one of the major figures in baseball history. It’s coming out on April 1st, and you should probably order it.

But he has decided to add “pain in my butt” to his resume, as he sent me an email reminding me that yesterday was the 44th anniversary of the Braves ill-fated signing of Tom Seaver:

Seaver grabbed the attention of big league scouts after going 10-2 as a
sophomore at the University of Southern California in 1965. He was
drafted in the 10th round of the very first Major League Baseball June
Amateur Draft that year by the Dodgers, but could not come to an
agreement with the team.

Less than a year later, on Feb. 24,
1966, Seaver signed a $40,000 contract with the Braves. But just six
days after Seaver signed, Commissioner William “Spike” Eckert ruled
that the Braves’ contract was void because USC’s baseball season was
still in progress. Suddenly, Seaver was a man without a team.

It would probably only appeal to Mets fans and some Braves deadenders like me, but someone should write an alternate history describing what would have happened to the respective franchises if Seaver had been allowed to join the Braves.

Ah, forget it. Ted Turner probably would have just traded him for a warm bucket of spit and some Montana ranch land in 1976. Better that the Mets did it in 1977.

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.