Torii Hunter thinks some of his teammates are coasting

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The Angels dropped a fourth straight game to the White Sox on Thursday afternoon and fell six games back of the Rangers in the American League West.  Halos center fielder Torii Hunter, for one, is not happy about it. 

Hunter told ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon that he thinks some of his teammates might be loafing it in anticipation of the much-need All-Star break.

“We might have some guys looking at the standings and seeing the
three games off for the All-Star break and kind of getting a little
loose, relaxed, don’t really want to do much,” Hunter said. “You can see it. Hopefully it’s not that. Every game, you’ve got to come out 100 percent ready and ready to play hard.

Hunter may be correct, but it can be awfully hard for a team to win baseball games when guys like Kevin Frandsen, Reggie Willits and Paul McAnulty are seeing regular playing time.  Losing Kendry Morales was a major blow to the Angels’ chances this season and Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui have simply looked old.

The 34-year-old Hunter is at least doing his part.  Named to his fourth All-Star game last weekend, he is batting .301/.383/.520 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI through 302 at-bats.

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.