Every year, just as interleague play gets going, someone decides that it’s time for baseball to undergo some sort of divisional realignment. They just go together as topics I guess. Probably because they both involve messing with the natural order of things. I have no idea.
Just read one by Tom Van Riper in Forbes. It’s like a lot of others in its desire to obliterate the old leagues and group teams by geography while preserving some rivalries. As with most such proposals it creates more problems than it solves, in my view. I mean, get a load of his “Eastern Conference Northeast Division”: Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays. And you think that Toronto fans complain about their division now?
Of course I think we can deal with that as long as his proposal for the Braves’ division stays: Atlantic Division – Orioles, Nationals, Braves, Marlins, Rays. Sold!
Seriously, though, here’s my thing on realignment: if it is to be done, it should be done in increments, to solve specific problems and only when making minor changes makes manifest sense. Like, say, if the Rays relocated to Portland Oregon or something. Otherwise, you’re probably best served just eliminating divisions altogether, going to a fully balanced schedule and taking the top 4-6 teams in overall record for the playoffs.
Wait: that’s so crazy it just might work!
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.