UPDATE: Cardinals press conference: La Russa news?

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UPDATE:  Now the tweeterbugs are speculating that the press conference is not about Molina, but about La Russa.  The betting is the announcement that he’s going to return next year.

That would make more sense than a retirement announcement. For one thing he’s flying to New York today to do Letterman tonight and if he were retiring you figure he’d want to be around for all of the parties and thanks and hoopla that would entail. Coming back? That’s just a quickie announcement.  For another thing La Russa doesn’t strike me as a “leave on top” type. For yet another thing there’s a chance the Cardinals are better next year with Adam Wainwright coming back and everything so why not give it another go?

Anyway: we’ll know in a few minutes.

8:45 AM: The Cardinals have announced a 10AM Eastern/9AM Central press conference. No word on what it’s about, but you can probably assume that it’s not about Albert Pujols because, like, 500 people would have been “hearing this” and talking about talking to insiders and all of that jazz before now if it was.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com speculates that the presser will be about Yadier Molina. Molina has a 2012 club option for $7 million which is one of the most brain-free no-brainers of the entire offseason.  The Cardinals probably just wanted to exercise it now before Molina cleans out his St. Louis place and heads to the Molina mothership or wherever it is he heads for the winter.

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.