Most people would consider it awesome when someone gives them $12.5 million, but I wonder if David Ortiz will feel that way. We’ll know soon, because the Red Sox just picked up his option for 2011. This after comments in the press in which he made it clear that he’d prefer a multi-year deal.
Of course if you’re Boston, this makes total sense. Ortiz had a good year last year but he could crater at any moment, just like any big slugger could. And of course, he’s had long stretches of poor performance these past two seasons, which could be a harbinger of such a cratering. Why on Earth would they go longer than one year? And while $12.5 million is a bit more than the going rate for a DH these days, if they refused to exercise the option, there would likely be a ton of teams willing to take a chance on a one year deal with Big Papi, on the theory that he could be their Jim Thome. Or better.
So: Ortiz gets a bit more than he’s probably worth, and the Red Sox have one less thing they need to worry about this winter. Sounds great.
So, why then, do I think this will lead to some trouble soon?
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.