Wait, Magic Johnson sitting next to Frank McCourt is a problem of some kind?

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I thought the  picture of Magic Johnson sitting next to Frank McCourt at yesterday’s Dodgers-Padres game was kind of funny in a study-in-contrasts kind of way. But apparently it was more than that. At least to T.J. Simers who believes that it was a legitimate P.R. disaster:

Why would the best thing that has happened to the Dodgers in recent years allow himself to be photographed sitting next to the worst thing that has happened to the Dodgers? … Who is advising Magic? It can’t be a close friend or anyone interested in preserving Magic’s reputation, because they would tell him the last place he should be seen these days is sitting beside McCourt.

I looked high and low in the article for telltale signs of Simers’ trademark tongue-in-cheek thing, but could find no evidence that he was anything but serious here. He seems to legitimately believe that it’s insane that the buyer and seller of a big asset are seen together in between the time the bid was accepted and the deal closed.

You’re right. T.J.  Magic and McCourt should be like a bride and groom on their wedding day and not set eyes on one another lest all The Bad Things happen.

In other news, the O.C. Register has scores of people covering today’s Angels opener. Despite all of that editorial competition, I bet none of those guys have any trouble finding something to write about that is more of a legitimate thing than what Simers is all animated about here.

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.