After signing a minor league contract with the Nationals over the winter, Mike Cameron announced in February that he planned to retire. However, he is going out as a Mariner.
Cameron, who spent four seasons with the club, signed a one-day employment contract to officially retire with the Mariners. The announcement was made before he threw out of the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Ichiro Suzuki in last night’s home opener against the Athletics.
Cameron was acquired by the Mariners in February of 2000 in the trade that sent Ken Griffey, Jr. to the Reds. Despite the immense pressure of replacing a franchise icon in center field, he told Josh Liebeskind of MLB.com that he always felt comfortable in Seattle.
“The days that I played here and the opportunity that I got to replace a legend, and the fact that the people kind of took hold and took shape of me and kind of walked me through everything and gave me the opportunity to really start my career off right, this is basically where I want to finish,” Cameron said.
Wildly underappreciated because of his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, Cameron was a three-time Gold Glove award winner and one-time All-Star. He is one of only 21 players who accumulated at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases in their career.
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.