Jake Fox is 0-for-7 after leading spring training in homers

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Jake Fox led spring training in homers and his monster exhibition production made lots of headlines last month, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter instead smartly focused on his defensive deficiencies and extensive track record containing thousands of plate appearances.

All of which is why Fox has played in just two of the Orioles’ first nine games while going 0-for-7 to bring his career batting average down to .232 in 168 games.

Fox’s power hasn’t been limited to spring training, as he’s smacked 18 homers in 435 at-bats during the regular season, but a .232 batting average combined with a ghastly 98/23 K/BB ratio and .281 on-base percentage from a 28-year-old without an obvious home defensively don’t add up to much more than a reserve role.

Fox’s lone start of the season came at catcher Saturday night and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that he and batterymate Jake Arrieta “weren’t totally in sync” and had “a long conversation” in the dugout with Showalter, who hinted afterward that he wasn’t happy with the game-calling.

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.