So, the Marlins obviously have money to waste

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I realize it’s a footnote that the Marlins re-signed Greg Dobbs for $1.7 million earlier today. It probably doesn’t make much of a difference to anyone besides a few Marlins fans who are already so apathetic that it scarcely registered for more than a few minutes.

However, I don’t think this should be overlooked or forgotten. Paying Dobbs $1.2 million more than the minimum is an absurd waste of money, oddly perpetrated by one of the game’s cheapest owners.

The Marlins originally signed Dobbs to a minor league deal after the 2010 season that would pay him $600,000 if he made the club. Which he did, of course. After hitting .275/.311/.389 with eight homers in 411 at-bats in 2011, he was then given a two-year, $3 million extension.

Now Dobbs is finishing up his third year with the club. Overall, he’s hit .267/.310/.366 with 15 homers and 110 RBI in 966 at-bats. He’s best known as a pinch-hitter, but he started 84 games at third base for the Marlins in 2011, 96 games at various positions in 2012 and 47 games at first base this year. His defensive numbers at all of his positions are abysmal, so Baseball-Reference puts him at -2.5 WAR over the three years. The only position players worse during the span are Yuniesky Betancourt (-3.5) and Marlins teammate Chris Coghlan (-3.3).

And this has been Dobbs’ worst year of the three. He’s batting .229/.305/.301 in 236 at-bats. There’s no way any other team would want him on more than a minor league deal this winter. At 35, he’s obviously a worse bet than he was at 32, when the Marlins originally signed him to that non-guaranteed $600,000 deal.  Why is there any reason to give him more than that now?

It’s not as though $1.2 million was always inconsequential to the Marlins. Two years ago, they gave away right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays rather than pay him $1 million-$1.2 million in arbitration. He’s gone on to post ERAs of 3.03 and 3.48 the last two years. Now the Marlins are just throwing away that kind of money.

I understand why the Marlins want to have someone like Dobbs. Young players shouldn’t waste away on the bench, and Dobbs will take his reserve role without complaint. But that’s hardly a good reason to give him a raise and pay him three times the minimum. So what if he’s good in the clubhouse if that’s all he’s really good at? If they had let the market dictate his worth, then they’d have some more to spend on someone useful.

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.