Manager Dusty Baker announced his Opening Day lineup on Wednesday, with Chris Heisey nowhere to be found:
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Zach Cozart
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
LF Ryan Ludwick
CF Drew Stubbs
C Ryan Hanigan
SP Johnny Cueto
Another notable absence is that of Rookie of the Year hopeful Devin Mesoraco.
This post is about Heisey, though. The 27-year-old has hit .254/.316/.465 in 480 at-bats for the Reds the last two years. It’s not great, but it’s a whole lot better than Ludwick’s .244/.318/.391 line over the same timespan.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Baker explained the decision by saying he didn’t like how Heisey would match up against Mark Buehrle. For what it’s worth, neither Heisey nor Ludwick has ever faced Buehrle before. Both are right-handed hitters. Heisey, though, has had a big reverse platoon split up to this point of his career.
One game doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But this was supposed to be Heisey’s year to prove he can play regularly. That he’s already found himself on the bench hardly bodes well.
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.