Report: Pirates expected to take Gerrit Cole with No. 1 pick

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As opposed to the past two years, there isn’t an obvious No. 1 pick in Monday’s First-Year Player Draft. This has led to spirited debate about who the Pirates may select. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen have been mentioned most frequently in the past few weeks, but it appears that the Pirates have a made a decision.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hearing that the Pirates will select Gerrit Cole with the first pick in Monday’s draft.

Cole, 20, arguably has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the draft. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Cole can touch 100 mph with his heater and also throws a plus-changeup. He was previously selected by the Yankees with the No. 28 pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but decided to attend UCLA.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported this morning that other teams are anticipating that the Mariners will take a position player with the No. 2 pick. Anthony Rendon would seem to be the favorite, though high school outfielder Bubba Starling is another possibility.

By the way, if you are looking for some in-depth draft insight, check out this piece by Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld.

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.