Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes about Troy Tulowitzki and his plethora of injuries over the years. The sorts of injuries which, historically speaking, tend to cause players to have to move from more demanding defensive positions to less demanding ones. And shortstop is pretty darn demanding. Here’s what Tulo says about the possibility of having to change positions:
“No, I won’t move,” he said in a phone interview. “I will retire before I move.”
Not to third base? Not to first base, a position that could save him from wear and tear and possibly prolong his career?
“No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” said Tulowitzki, 29. “It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you … it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.”
We all had dreams when we were kids. I was going to be a sports writer — wait, bad example.
Point is, if the time comes when the Rockies or whoever employs Tulowitzki decide that his highest and best use is as, say, a second or third baseman, such an attitude probably won’t play well. The only guy around who is allowed to play shortstop years after better options presented themselves for his team is Derek Jeter. And he had four World Series rings before that became an issue. More often than not, the Michael Young situation applies: you may want to play short, but it’s a team game and even the big stars move off short when better options are available.
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.