Good night, sweet prince.
They signed him to an incentive-laden deal, paid him to lose weight, waited for him to recover from ankle surgery, and then handed him the starting job in right field. And now the Phillies have designated Delmon Young for assignment after he hit .261 with eight homers and a .699 OPS in 80 games while playing his usual awful defense.
Young is still just 27 years old, but he’s been an above-average hitter for a corner outfielder exactly once in seven full seasons and is bad enough defensively that his best position is designated hitter. And since a supposed “breakout” season with the Twins in 2010 he’s hit a combined .266 with a .299 on-base percentage and .402 slugging percentage in 355 games, striking out 266 times compared to 57 walks in 1,402 plate appearances.
While in Philadelphia for the SABR convention last week I went to Friday night’s Phillies-Braves game and saw Young go 3-for-4 with a homer that landed about 10 feet from my spot in right field. He then went 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts in his next five games, which means I can officially say that I was there for Young’s last homer with the Phillies. Some things are just meant to be.
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.