Last week I wondered whether the Cubs would give Triple-A MVP Bryan LaHair a legitimate opportunity in the majors and the answer so far is yes, as the 28-year-old has played in nine games while batting .458 with six extra-base hits in 24 at-bats.
Of course, he’ll come back down to earth eventually and it remains to be seen if the Cubs have LaHair in their 2012 plans. If they don’t, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that he’ll have no problem finding work in Japan:
According to scouting sources, numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to LaHair, if he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season. LaHair said he has had conversations with some representatives of Japanese baseball.
It may be a moot point, as the Cubs could retain LaHair by keeping him on the 40-man roster and still not decide to give him an extended shot in Chicago, but as Levine notes they did sell Micah Hoffpauir to a Japanese team last year for $200,000.
LaHair told Levine that he’s intrigued by the possibility of playing in Japan, in part because the money would be significantly better than at Triple-A, “but the dream is to be in the major leagues and this is where I want to be.” He doesn’t project as a star or anything, but hitting .338 with 38 homers at Triple-A should earn a guy a couple hundred at-bats to prove himself.
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.