We weren’t expecting that.
Jon Heyman reports that the Braves have traded Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians. Buster Olney says that the Braves will eat $10 million of the $15 million left on Lowe’s contract and that the Indians will send back “second tier” player(s) in return. UPDATE: The player going from Cleveland to Atlanta is left handed reliever Chris Jones. No, I dunno either.
Lowe had a horrendous 2011 season, going 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA and a WHIP of 1.508, though there is some suggestion that he was a touch better than that record and ERA would lead you to believe. Still, he’s not been good and he’s in a downward trajectory, as a good late run in 2010 helped salvage what, to that point, had been an equally suspect season.
It would appear that the best thing Lowe has going for him right now is durability, in that he’s made at least 32 starts a year for a solid decade. Which, while not nothing, is not much to pin one’s hopes on. Lowe will turn 39 on June 1st, after all, so you can’t really count on him having too many more bounceback seasons, can you?
That said, for the Indians, a $5 million gamble is not a terrible one. For the Braves, not having Derek Lowe throw actual pitches in baseball games and saving $5 million is pretty OK under the circumstances too. So, while it’s too much to call this “win-win” we can probably call it “not-lose-not-lose.”
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.