Tim Lincecum, a man of the people

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Tim Lincecum has had a rough season. At least for him.

His fastball velocity is down, his mechanics are out of sorts, and he’s thinking a little bit too much, which is only hurting the ballclub.

But on Tuesday in Philadelphia he didn’t let his on-field issues affect his attitude, going to great lengths to interact with his fans. OK, so he simply stood on a trash can to get up close and personal to sign some autographs.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s not like he was balancing on the edge of a cliff to deliver food to starving children. And we know that Lincecum is hardly a choir boy.

But still, in this modern era of sports, where professional athletes are insulated more than ever from the common folk, many of them coddled, spoiled, and raised from an early age with an unreal sense of entitlement, there is something kind of cool about a two-time Cy Young winner standing on a trash can to give some face time to a few admirers. He didn’t have to do it, and many athletes wouldn’t.

Rock on, Timmy.

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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.