This time of year there are lots of stories about teams trying to sign free agents-to-be before they hit the open market following the season, but in the Brewers’ case they plan to let Shaun Marcum’s contract expire.
Marcum has one year and $7.725 million left on his deal and general manager Doug Melvin told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that “we’ll probably let him play the year out.”
According to McCalvy “the Brewers have made no move to engage Marcum in discussions about an extension and that appears unlikely to change.”
Marcum is 30 years old, faded badly down the stretch last season amid concerns about arm problems, and missed time early in camp with a sore shoulder, so it’s tough to blame the Brewers for being hesitant about making a long-term commitment.
For his part, Marcum said that he’d “like to stay” and “won’t close the door, but if they close the door on their end, then it’s closed … there’s not a lot we can do about it.” Not a lot except get healthy, have a strong season, and cash in big as a free agent 30-something starts from now.
Brett Lawrie, whom the Brewers traded for Marcum, is under the Blue Jays’ control through 2017.
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.