Scott Cousins is a pitcher now

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Most folks who have heard of Scott Cousins did so via his takeout slide that ended Buster Posey’s 2011 season and the subsequent threats people made to him — including Giants GM Brian Sabean — in the aftermath.

If you’ve paid more attention than most you know that Cousins has spent the past four years just barely hanging on as a major league outfielder, but actually spending far more time in the minors.

Now Cousins has a new gig: newbie pitcher. Gary Fraley reports that the Rangers have signed Cousins — who spent his spring trying to latch on as an outfielder with the Red Sox — to be a pitcher:

Cousins the outfielder is no more. He will join the extended-spring-training team in Surprise, Ariz., to start the conversion to left-handed pitcher. Cousins has never pitched in a professional game.

Cousins is 29. He last pitched when he played for the University of San Francisco in 2006. As a sophomore in 2005 he went 8–5 with a 2.64 ERA and 76 strikeouts. He won four more games and struck out 61 as a junior. Obviously he was drafted as an outfielder, but I suppose it’s never too late in life to find your true path.

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.