UPDATE: MLB.com’s Peter Gammons received a text from Bradley on Wednesday night stating: “Any reports I said
I’m packing up and leaving are 100% fabricated.” It should come as no surprise. He may be an abrasive man, but he’s not going to leave $21 million on the table.
9:49pm: As Craig chronicled earlier, Milton Bradley left the Mariners’ clubhouse in the middle of Tuesday night’s game after an altercation with the home plate umpire and, eventually, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu. On Wednesday Bradley took the first step in making up for that childish and immature act, asking the Mariners for “help” with his issues.
It’s good to hear that Bradley is beginning to recognize that the problems that have plagued him throughout his career are mostly of his own fault, and that there are people rooting for him to succeed. The Mariners have done nothing but treat him with graciousness and respect, rescuing him from a volatile situation in Chicago and giving him an opportunity to play every day while other teams scoffed at the idea.
Of course, we can’t assume that a new leaf has been turned because we’ve all seen Bradley burn faithful organizations in the past. He needs to commit to playing the game of baseball with a level of calmness and respect — the same kind of respect that Wakamatsu and Co. have shown him this season. He also needs to make a conscious effort to fix whatever causes him to act out, whether through therapy, medication or both. Bradley has undoubtedly gone through required psychotherapy in the past, but it’s time for him to take it seriously and accept that changes need to be made. Contrary to what the fans of Wrigley Field might think, the guy is not incapable of righting the wrongs in his own life.
Bradley, who just turned 32, has a .214 batting average, a .313 on-base percentage and seven extra-base hits in 70 at-bats this season. He was not in Wednesday’s lineup and may be asked to sit out until the weekend to allow further time for reflection.
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.