The Padres are ready to turn Mat Latos loose.
The 23-year-old right-hander posted a stellar 2.92 ERA and 1.08 WHIP across 31 starts last season as a big league sophomore, striking out 189 batters and walking only 50.
His strikeout total might have been even higher and his rate stats might have fallen even further, but the Padres played it safe in September and October, finding extra pockets of rest between starts for him down the stretch and keeping his pitch counts low. He made only one start of six innings or more after September 7.
That will all change this year.
Padres manager Bud Black told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday that Latos will not be limited in any way this season. At least, not by the San Diego coaching staff.
“Not to the point that there were last year, when it was a topic from the first day of spring training,” said the skipper. “There will be no hard numbers in regards to his innings pitched.”
In the recently launched Rotoworld Fantasy Draft Guide, we have Latos winning 13 games against a 3.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 185 strikeouts. Check out the Draft Guide for over 1,000 more profiles and projections.
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.