Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters that he met with Albert Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano today, according to B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com.
Mozeliak wouldn’t classify the talks as “negotiations” and cautioned that he doesn’t intend to provide regular updates to the media in regards to a contract extension.
“This is not going to be negotiated in the media,” Mozeliak said. “When and why things happen, I think both Dan and I would like to keep that private and confidential. I think that’s how we’ll proceed. You’re not going to get a play-by-play and we’re not going to announce if we’re talking or not. At some point if we feel there needs to be a public statement and we both agree on it, then we’ll do it.”
“Rather than me be coy every time you guys ask, just understand that’s his request and I’m perfectly happy working under those conditions. If we have a chance to do something, it just makes more sense to do it confidentially.”
Mozeliak has previously indicated that he hopes to get something done before Christmas, so if all goes well, the next time we’ll hear about this situation from either the team or Pujols’ representatives is when they are ready to make an official announcement on an extension. Pujols is obviously in his own stratosphere, but Cardinals fans have to feel good about Adrian Gonzalez’s pending contract extension with the Red Sox, as it seemingly takes one potential suitor out of the bidding.
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.