NBC SportsTalk: Should Bud Selig block the Marlins-Blue Jays trade?

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I’ve seen some random writing on the Internet and heard some random chatter on talk radio about the possibility of Bud Selig stepping in and blocking the Marlins-Blue Jays trade on some “best interests of baseball” grounds. But let’s be clear about this: he won’t do it, and he probably shouldn’t.

Let’s take the “shouldn’t” first: He shouldn’t because there are situations where a trade that looks exactly like this one from a baseball perspective — a massive payroll dump for some young cheap talent — is legitimate for a team that wants to jump-start a rebuilding project. If you have expensive veterans and you’re not going anyplace, the best way to deal with it is to get rid of the expensive veterans. Cut ’em if you have no other choice, but if you can get a return for them, go for it, start fresh and move on.

The thing that makes this particular trade odious cannot be seen on the paper setting forth the terms of the transaction. The deal itself is not so unorthodox or insane that it requires intervention.  Rather, it is the background of Jeff Loria and the Marlins and the b.s. and baloney he has dumped on Marlins fans and the city of Miami for a decade that makes this all so vile, and that’s all outside of the terms of the deal.

That leads to the reason why Bud Selig won’t block this trade, even if there were other good reasons to do it.  He won’t do it because Selig stepping into this mess would represent rank hypocrisy.  Baseball rewarded Loria for killing a franchise in Montreal. Baseball for years allowed Loria to pocket revenue sharing money rather than use it on his team to make them better and, if their financial documents hadn’t been leaked to Deadspin, likely still would allow it.  Baseball has strongly encouraged owners to blackmail cities into building them publicly-funded stadiums. Indeed, it has actively discouraged efforts by owners to pay for their own ballparks.

Baseball will not block or, I presume, even criticize this trade because it is the logical product of the incentive system it itself has created. The way Loria has built up hope, taken taxpayer money and then trashed his team and crapped on his fan base may be rather extreme and possibly even disturbing for the people in the Commissioner’s Office, but given the way Loria has been incentivized for the past 10-15 years, it should not be shocking to them.  And for Major League Baseball to now, after all of this time, step in and object to the way Jeff Loria is mismanaging his franchise, would be a repudiation of policies that it has long encouraged among the ownership class, and if there is one thing that Bud Selig doesn’t do it’s reverse himself when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I was on NBC SportsTalk with Erik Kuselias last night and we talked about this a bit:

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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.