Bryce Harper, Wil Myers finish among AFL’s top performers

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The Arizona Fall League regular season came to a conclusion Thursday, so let’s take a quick look at some of the stats.

Here are the OPS leaders:

1. Jedd Gyorko (3B Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR in 71 AB
2. Mike Olt (3B Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR in 106 AB
3. Wil Myers (OF Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR in 86 AB
4. Robbie Grossman (OF Pirates): .375/.472/.625, 7 HR in 104 AB
5. Michael Choice (OF Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR in 66 AB
6. Nolan Arenado (3B Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR in 121 AB
7. Kevin Mattison (OF Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR in 109 AB
8. Bryce Harper (OF Nationals): .333/.400/.634, 6 HR in 93 AB
9. Scooter Gennett (2B Brewers): .411/.470/.556, 2 HR in 90 AB
10. Jefry Marte (3B Mets): .333/.436/.538, 4 HR in 78 AB

A lot of strong numbers there, as usual. The AFL OPS as a whole was right around .815. For comparison’s sake, the league OPS in the majors this year was .720.

Myers, whose name came up in the Jair Jurrjens/Martin Prado talks with the Braves, had a disappointing season in Double-A before rebounding. He’s just turning 21 next month, so he still ranks as one of the game’s very best outfield prospects. Of course, Harper is a bit ahead of him there. Harper, who finished third in the league with 26 RBI in 25 games, turned 19 last month.

Disappointments include the Angels’ Mike Trout (.245/.279/.321 from a player who figured to dominate the competition in Arizona), the Marlins’ Matt Dominguez (.210/.278/.383) and the Mariners’ Chih-Hsien Chiang (.263/.337/.368).

On the pitching side, Seattle’s first-round pick, Danny Hultzen, had the best ERA among starters, coming in at 1.40 in 19 1/3 innings. Next up was the White Sox’s Terry Doyle, who went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. Pirates first-rounder Gerrit Cole, with a 3.00 ERA and a 16/4 K/BB ratio in 15 innings, is another who impressed.

Among the pitchers who struggled were Tigers left-hander Andrew Oliver, who had a 5.82 ERA and 16 walks in 17 innings, and Cubs prospect Trey McNutt, who had a 5.00 ERA and just eight strikeouts in 18 innings. McNutt’s name has been bandied about in the Theo Epstein compensation talks with Boston.

Former Padres prospect Nick Schmidt struck out 26 in 23 1/3 innings, but he finished with a 5.40 ERA anyway and he’s now expected to be left off San Diego’s 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.