Forget MVP for a second: did you see Heyman’s ROY pick?

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Craig took issue with Jon Heyman’s MVP ballot earlier this afternoon. I’m not really looking to pile on here, but I was just as disturbed by Heyman’s choice for AL Rookie of the Year:

1. Jordan Walden, Angels RP. This 100-mph thrower has 26 saves for pennant contender.

Walden already got a nod to the AL All-Star team because of that big fastball. Can we just leave it at that?

Walden’s 26 saves rank tied for 17th in the majors. His nine blown saves, on the other hand, rank first in the majors. Carlos Marmol and Matt Capps are next with eight.

Now, Walden has pitched better than that. A couple of those blown saves have been pretty cheap, and the Angels have won four of the nine games in which he’s been charged with blown saves.

Still, the only reason anyone would notice Walden as a ROY candidate is because he’s a closer, and the fact it that he hasn’t been all that good at closing. Among rookie relievers alone, Chris Sale, Aaron Crow, Vinnie Pestano and Greg Holland have been about as valuable as Walden.

The way I see it the AL Rookie of the Year candidates are Jeremy Hellickson (11-9, 3.01 ERA), Michael Pineda (9-8, 3.71 ERA), Ivan Nova (14-4, 3.96 ERA) and Mark Trumbo (.256/.294/.475). Arguing for anyone else just doesn’t make much sense, and Heyman is way, way overvaluing the closer’s role if he’s honestly putting Walden first and then not rounding out his ballot with Sale and Crow or Pestano.

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.