One of the reasons I’m hesitant to pick the Dodgers in the NL West despite all that talent is that almost all of that talent has question marks. Some guys have health questions. Some guys have to show that their best years aren’t behind them. Some guys — well, Hanley Ramirez — has to show that he can go back to his old, tougher defensive position and not be a liability.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes, that last one is becoming a bigger and bigger question:
Ramirez is the designated hitter for the Dominican Republic in Monday’s World Baseball Classicsemifinal against the Netherlands. He has alternated between third base and DH in the tournament, batting .176 with two home runs in the previous six games.
His fielding last season so concerned the Dodgers that they wanted him to play shortstop in winter ball, but a shoulder injury limited him to DH. He played 25 innings of shortstop over six games at the start of spring training, then left to join the Dominican team.
I don’t know how someone who was already a defensive liability at short can be ready to play a full season at short with minimal preparation there. But I guess we’ll see it play out in real time with Hanley Ramirez.
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.