The Wilpons have more than just the bankruptcy trustee to worry about

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For those of you following the Wilpon/Mets/Madoff train wreck, there’s a fascinating story in today’s New York Times which suggests that the Wilpons’ legal problems may just be getting started.

The upshot: when Madoff got arrested, the Wilpons and Saul Katz were strapped. Coming to their rescue: as many as eight banks who provided them with financing on which Sterling Equities continues to rely.  The Times talks to multiple banking and legal experts who suggest that, in light of the current lawsuit — and all of the ugliness it’s dredging up — the banks could do any number of things, none of which are good for the Wilpons and Katz.

Things like calling in their loans now, which would put even more financial pressure on them to sell the Mets. Another possibility: they could comb through all of their own financial records relating to the Wilpons searching for something — anything — which, in light of the new information we’re all learning, could be used to cast the Wilpons in a bad light.

I don’t pretend to understand the complexity of the financial stuff.  But I certainly do understand the overall when-it-rains-it-pours dynamic of these things. We’d all like to believe that people will stand strong with us when things get bad, but when a scandal erupts or a suit gets filed people either run for cover, look for someone else to throw under the bus or both.  These banks are no innocents themselves. J.P. Morgan, for example, has its own Madoff-related problems.  You can bet that if there’s a way to shift blame to or share blame with someone else, they’ll take it.  The first big conversation with the lawyers in any mess like this involves the question of “who else can be invited to this party?”

Every day the Wilpons don’t settle with the trustee is another day when someone, somewhere, will consider jumping on the pile.

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.