We’ll talk soon about whether it was wise for the Angels to give Albert Pujols a friggin’ quarter of a billion dollars, but for now, let’s look at this from Pujols’ perspective.
As soon as the news hit the wire I saw people — Cardinals fans mostly — starting to slam the man they’ve cheered for the past decade. Watching the tweets flow, I saw the word “greedy” thrown around. I saw people talking about how he would now be hated in St. Louis. I saw him called “Pujol$.” Cut it out, will ya?
This was no betrayal of the Cardinals by Albert Pujols. The Cardinals, as best can be told, never really got much higher than the bids they’ve had out for a few days. Probably ten years. $220 million at best, but some people are saying it was actually less. The Angels came in a good $30-40 million more than the nearest bid. How much of a hometown discount is the guy supposed to give?
The people booing this move on loyalty grounds would all switch jobs for more money in a heartbeat. Every single one of them. Pujols’ move is no different. And to suggest that he owes the Cardinals something greater — after delivering two World Series championships and nearly unprecedented excellence for 11 seasons — is nonsense.
The Angels paid the man. The Cardinals wouldn’t. It’s that simple.
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.