Missing persons alert: Peter Bourjos

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Peter Bourjos is a reigning gold glove winner. Probably the best defensive center fielder in the game.  But the dude has been riding pine like crazy lately:

Peter Bourjos’ game-changing speed and Gold Glove-caliber defense don’t do the Angels any good on the bench, but that’s where those tools were again Wednesday night. The center fielder was not in the lineup for the ninth time in 11 games, his playing time greatly reduced by the April 27 promotion of Mike Trout from triple A, but his attitude remaining upbeat and optimistic.

Hitting .192/.259/.288 will do that for you.  And when the guy taking your place is both one of the most highly-touted prospects in the game, is himself great with the glove and has started out hitting really, really well, the bench is in your future.

It’s kind of tough for Anaheim. On the one hand, you have Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter in the corners — and neither of them are long term members of the team in all likelihood — so the idea of sliding Trout to right and keeping Bourjos’ glove in the game is appealing.  On the other hand, with the offense struggling as much as it has, even Vernon Wells is an upgrade over Bourjos.

Ultimately, whether Bourjos’ 2011 season — in which he posted a .765 OPS — represents his true level will determine his future.  If he hits like that, it’ll play with his leather.  If not, he’s gonna see a lot more bench time in his future.

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.