We still have nearly two months left in the regular season, but one of the more interesting questions for the Hot Stove will be just how much Jose Reyes will make in free agency given that he has already had two stints on the disabled list this season with a strained left hamstring.
Perception could quickly change if Reyes is able to repeat his month of June in September, of course, but one Mets player told David Lennon of New York Newsday on Monday that “he’s probably losing $100,000 a day on the DL.”
Assuming Reyes spends a similar amount of time on the disabled list as his initial hamstring issue, that means he would stand to lose a little over $3 million total. And that may be kind. While we were having debates a couple of months ago about whether Reyes was worth Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million), there’s now a good chance that he will lose a guaranteed year.
Meanwhile, Reyes’ lead agent, Peter Greenberg, is already doing his best to deflect the speedy shortstop’s reputation as an injury-prone player.
“He’s not Cal Ripken,” Greenberg said, “but I think he’s been a lot healthier than a lot of people give him credit for. When he’s out of the lineup, obviously the team misses him, so it gets blown out of proportion because he is so important to the team. I think if you look over the course of time and compare him to a lot of players, he’s as healthy or healthier than a lot of players in the league.”
Reyes dealt with leg problems in the early part of his career, but he played at least 153 games from 2005 to 2008. However, he has appeared in just 267 games since the start of the 2009. Despite that, he is tied for sixth among MLB shortstops since 2009 in FanGraphs War (fWAR). You can bet that many teams will do a careful evaluation of whether Reyes’ production when he is on the field will be worth projected absences due to injury, especially as he makes his way into his 30s.
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.