No common ground to be found for Pirates and Mark Appel

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The Pirates knew they were taking a risk when they made Stanford right-hander Mark Appel the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Expected to go first overall, Appel reportedly turned down a $6 million bonus from the Astros before the draft, causing Houston to choose Carlos Correa instead.

The fall to No. 8 guaranteed that Appel would no longer be a candidate for a $6 million bonus. MLB’s proposed slot price for No. 8 is $2.9 million, compared to $7.2 million for No. 1 overall. Now that Appel is the Pirates’ only top-10 pick unsigned, the team knows exactly what it can offer him without losing a 2013 first-rounder: $3.84 million. That reportedly isn’t good enough for Appel.

Appel would seem to have a lot more to lose than to gain by going back to school for his senior season. If he duplicates his 2012 performance, he could be a top-three pick next year and get more than $3.8 million. However, there’s a significant risk of injury and it’s also possible he just won’t perform quite as well. Plus, as a college senior, he’ll have less leverage in negotiations next year no matter where he’s drafted.

Still, it looks like that’s where we’re headed. It’s not like the Pirates can simply up their proposal against Friday’s deadline; they’re offering him every dollar they can without losing a first-round pick. And while one could argue it might be worth losing the pick to land someone with Appel’s talent — particularly given that the Pirates probably won’t be drafting it the top 10 again next year — it’s clear they’re not willing to budge on that possibility.

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.