Cespedes on the Alburquerque kiss: “I am going to hit the ball hard against him and I am going to kiss my bat”

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As we mentioned yesterday, A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a comebacker to end the top of the ninth in Game 2 of the ALDS. Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque fielded it and then kissed it before throwing him out at first.  After the game, Cespedes said how he planned to respond:

“We’re not finished yet,. When I get back to Oakland, I am going to hit the ball hard against him. And I am going to kiss my bat.”

That’s probably the best revenge for what, while not an international incident or anything, was pretty bush league, bro.*  But before that happens, Albuquerque himself may try to forge the peace. Bob Nightengale reports that the Tigers are going to try to set the young man straight:

“You cannot do that, that’s just not right,” Tigers MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera told USA TODAY Sports. “This game is about respect. We know he’s excited, but you have to respect the game.

“I will talk to him, and tell him that you cannot do that.”

Expect an apology of some sort before Game 3 gets underway tomorrow.

*Man, I really wish they’d make new avocado commercials. Is this season three of those “bush league, bro,” commercials or just two? Seems like a million. And don’t give me that “well, you remember them and that’s the point!” jazz.  I remember having my wisdom teeth pulled too. Doesn’t mean I want to do it again.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.