It’s “I have no evidence of his PED use, but I’m not voting for Jeff Bagwell” season

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I guess we’re going to do this again. We’re going to say that Jeff Bagwell, by the fame, by the accomplishments and by the numbers, is worthy of the Hall of Fame. But we’re then going to not vote for him because … I’m not sure why. The first of the season is Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant:

Based on numbers alone, Bagwell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That part is easy. He hit .297 with 449 homers, eight 100-RBI seasons and had a .948 OPS as well as a Gold Glove and an MVP Award. Yet because of the sins of his baseball generation, fair or not, Bagwell finds himself in an uncomfortable position.

It’s only uncomfortable because you and others like him put him there, Mr. Jacobs.

If there’s a positive test of PED use, fine. If there is a convincing report that the man used PEDs, fine.  But in Bagwell’s case we have neither right now. All we have are people who believe something based on their gut and guilt by the loosest association. And who will likely have no problem voting for Jim Thome, Frank Thomas and other big-slugging first basemen of the era when their time comes.

And I really can’t believe that no one has a giant problem with this.

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.