Cubs and Geovany Soto avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, the Cubs and Geovany Soto have agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract, avoiding arbitration in the player’s first year of eligibility. He earned $575,000 last season.

Soto, who turns 28 later this month, bounced back from a disappointing 2009 campaign to bat .280/.393/.497 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI over 105 games last season. He led all MLB catchers (with at least 350 plate appearances) with an .890 OPS. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last September, but is expected to be ready for spring training.

With Soto out of the way, that leaves Carlos Marmol, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and the newly-acquired Matt Garza as the club’s remaining arbitration-eligible players. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs consider a multi-year extension for Marmol, who made $2.125 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter.

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.