Don’t expect Scott Boras to admit this — or for him to allow Stephen Drew to publicly do so — but Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe has the inside scoop:
Red Sox players say Stephen Drew now regrets not taking the qualifying offer when he had the chance. But the veteran players have turned from the idea that the team needs Drew back. That was the case at the beginning of camp, but not since they’ve had a chance to see Will Middlebrooks re-commit himself.
The first part of that — Drew regretting it — is news. You figure that he did not anticipate his offseason being so long. Or the Mets and Yankees, each of whom could really benefit by his presence, being so loathe to go after him.
The second part — the players no longer thinking the team needs Drew back — is something different. It’s not not news, I guess, but it would be more newsworthy for someone three weeks into spring training to admit that the team, as currently structured, is not fine. To do so would be a tacit swipe at the current players and the front office.
Put differently, a Red Sox player is not going to say now that they need Drew. But if the Sox signed Drew tomorrow, they’d all say “wow, great to have him back. Huge addition. We’re so much better now.”
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.